Trump Campaign Shifts Strategy To Capitalize On Indictment Rocket Fuel

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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Donald Trump’s campaign will capitalize on his indictment to alter the 2024 presidential campaign to be about “fear” of the “deep state,” Trump insiders told the Daily Caller.

The former president shifted gears in his messaging since being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury by focusing his post-arraignment speech at Mar-a-Lago on the other legal cases looming over him. That messaging direction will continue throughout his campaign, those close to Trump said, noting that even more “B.S. indictments” would help the campaign politically. (RELATED: Trump Details Endless Legal Fights In Primetime Mar-A-Lago Address After Indictment)

“Fear is the most powerful motivator in electoral politics, and when you can look a voter in the eye and say, ‘if they’re trying to do this with me, imagine what they will do to you if they have a chance…’ Trump is the master at that type of messaging,” a former senior Trump White House official told the Caller.

The Mar-a-Lago speech was Trump “laying out the case that the entire system has been to get him since day one… and teeing up the message that it’s going to be about him against the system,” a GOP consultant close to the Trump campaign told the Caller.

The Caller granted anonymity to sources familiar with Trump’s thinking to allow them to speak openly on a sensitive matter.

Trump’s team saw a boost immediately after he was indicted and then arraigned on charges relating to allegedly falsifying business records to pay hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels. The former president’s poll numbers skyrocketed above his opponents and the campaign received over $12 million in fundraising.

The bump in poll numbers is expected to carry on through the Republican primaries as the other candidates will struggle to define themselves in relation to the former president, the two Trump insiders said.

“I think this indictment changes everything…. the entire universe has changed… After what Alvin Bragg did, it became virtually impossible” for Republicans to attack Trump without it looking like they were “teaming up with the New York DA,” the GOP consultant close to the campaign said.

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – APRIL 04: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the Mar-a-Lago Club April 4, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Trump pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan courtroom today to 34 counts related to money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016, the first criminal charges for any former U.S. president. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The “defense of Trump in this moment is a litmus test for every candidate as to whether or not you’re going to be willing to stand up to the politicization of the American justice system, or the so-called deep state,” the former Trump White House official added.

“In the example of DeSantis, you’re trying to be Trump-adjacent. So you need some distance from Trump, some contrast with Trump, while also not alienating his voters who you need to turn into your own voters. And that’s why you’re seeing DeSantis just crater in the polls, because it’s becoming harder and harder to see what lane he’s running down,” the former White House official continued.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not announced a presidential bid but is Trump’s primary opponent in the polls, issued a statement in support of the former president after the indictment, and has suffered lower poll numbers since. Other candidates — already-announced and likely hopefuls — have also backed Trump in his legal battle against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

An official supporting Trump’s election effort disagreed that Trump will change his campaign strategy moving forward, pointing to DeSantis’ poll numbers.

“I don’t think it’s us that has to be worried about our strategy right now. You’d be better off asking Ron’s camp. Ron was already cratering in the polling before the indictment and that’s when he was on a book tour with softball interviews on Fox. Trump is now over 50 percent in many polls post-indictment. He is the frontrunner. Why fix what isn’t broken?” the official told the Caller.

Trump’s next likely court date is in December, and the Manhattan jury is expected to reconvene in January. These dates will be “flash points” in the campaign, and long-term strategy wise, the Trump campaign is going to try to “seize” on the opportunities that the indictment gives them, the former Trump White House official said.
If Trump gets indicted on charges relating to classified documents, the Trump Organization or alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election — all open cases against him — the campaign will pivot to make the indictments into a positive, the former official said.

Another indictment would be “similar to this one. It’s not exactly what you want in an ideal world, but does it present a huge opportunity politically? No question.”

“No one welcomes B.S. indictments. No human being wants to be indicted over bogus charges. That’s a separate question from, would it help Trump politically?” the GOP consultant close to the Trump campaign added.

Trump’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry from the Caller.