Former Trump loyalists pan his 2024 campaign announcement: ‘He’s the only Republican who could lose’

Trump-era officials were among a slew of high-profile Republicans criticising the former president’s announcement of a third bid for the White House in 2024.

Donald Trump launched his campaign with a rambling, grievance-laden address to supporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate, where just three months ago FBI agents executed a search warrant looking for evidence that he’d violated US laws in retaining national defence information and the obstruction of justice.

The twice-impeached former president, who fomented a riot in a last-ditch attempt to keep himself in power after he lost to Joe Biden in 2020, threw his hat into the ring just a week after most of his preferred candidates had failed to win their respective contests in the 2022 midterm elections. Many in his own party placed the blame on Mr Trump for a weaker-than-expected showing for the GOP.

His former chief of staff, ex-South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, told CNN on Tuesday that he doesn’t think Mr Trump’s decision to run is good for the party.

“I think he's the only Republican who could lose,” said Mr Mulvaney, who resigned his position as Mr Trump’s envoy for Northern Ireland after the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

He added that Mr Trump’s chances of becoming the GOP nominee against Mr Biden two years from now could be helped by the way Republicans allocate delegates for their four-yearly nominating convention.

“Can he be beaten head-to-head by Ron DeSantis or Tim Scott? Sure, but it’s not going to be a head-to-head race,” he said. “There will be five or six other people in the race, and he’ll get the 35 per cent that really support him, and under the winner-take-all primary system, he’ll be the nominee.”

The man who was Mr Trump’s running mate in 2020 and 2016, former vice-president Mike Pence, also weighed in during an interview to promote his new book, So Help Me God.

Mr Pence criticised Mr Trump’s decision, and told an interviewer on Tuesday: “I think we’ll have better choices.” He is widely expected to mount his own campaign for the GOP nomination in the near future.

The 2012 Republican nominee for president, Utah senator Mitt Romney, was just as blunt, telling reporters on Wednesday: “We need a leader who’s younger and has a bright vision for the future.”

“President Trump has lost three in a row, and if we want to start winning we need new leaders,” said Mr Romney, who is the only GOP senator to have voted to convict Mr Trump at both of his impeachment trials.

His colleague Lisa Murkowski expressed similar sentiments, noting that she is “a bit weary of campaigns” at this point. Asked whether Mr Trump’s announcement helps the Republicans’ chances of picking up the Georgia senate seat held by senator Raphael Warnock, Ms Murkowski replied: “I don’t believe so.”