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Trump Declares Himself Undeclared Nominee and Dismisses Debate with GOP Rivals

Former President Donald J. Trump addressed his supporters at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday, where he claimed that he had a commanding polling advantage in the 2024 Republican primary. He argued that there was no sense in debating his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, such as Gov. Ron DeSantis, as he was the party’s undeclared nominee. Mr. Trump highlighted his lead in the recent Emerson College poll, where 62 percent of GOP primary voters indicated that they would support him, compared to 16 percent for Mr. DeSantis.

In his speech, Mr. Trump also questioned the selection of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as the venue for the second GOP primary debate, and criticized Frederick J. Ryan Jr., the chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, who is also the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, which is frequently targeted by Mr. Trump. Representatives for the institute did not respond to requests for comment, and The Post declined to comment.

While the Republican field appears to be expanding, with potential candidates such as Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Mr. Trump remains unfazed. He dismissed his skeptics, such as New Hampshire’s governor, Chris Sununu, who recently stated that Mr. Trump’s losing streak could continue in 2024, citing his defeat in 2020 and Republican midterm losses in 2018 and 2022. Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Sununu’s decision to run for re-election as governor instead of for Senate during last year’s midterm elections.

Despite Mr. Trump’s confident claims, his legal entanglements continue to loom over his political aspirations. His lawyers appeared in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday to defend him in a case brought by E. Jean Carroll, a former magazine columnist who has accused Mr. Trump of raping her nearly three decades ago. Mr. Trump has denied the accusation but bemoaned his other legal entanglements, alluding to his recent indictment by a New York grand jury on charges that he had concealed hush-money payments to a former porn star. Additionally, a federal investigation, led by a special counsel, is investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse his defeat in the 2020 polls and his role in the events that led to the storming of the Capitol by his supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. A Georgia prosecutor is also in the final stages of an investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to reverse the election results in that state.

The news of Mr. Trump’s campaign rally in New Hampshire generated both perplexity and burstiness, as he continues to assert his dominance in the Republican field, despite his legal woes. His confident claims and criticism of fellow Republicans, such as Gov. Sununu, have left some perplexed about his chances of securing the nomination, while his legal entanglements continue to burst into the headlines, raising questions about his ability to mount a successful presidential bid.

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