Donald Trump tries to juggle 2024 campaign, sweeping criminal trials ahead of Super Tuesday

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Supreme Court made a momentous decision on Monday, but for former President Donald Trump it was an increasingly typical day.

More time spent on legal activity than campaigning for another term in the White House.

"Never been done in this country," Trump said from his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida after he praised the Supreme Court for ruling states can't remove him from their 2024 ballots.

The high court's decision on Monday capped a Super Tuesday campaign in which Trump spent less time shaking hands with voters and more time behind closed doors. The former president has been raising money and meeting with lawyers and campaign advisers, with much of the private discussion devoted to his sweeping civil lawsuits and criminal indictments.

It could well be a preview of things to come: Trump is scheduled to stand trial in a hush money case on March 25, just three weeks from Monday.

Less time campaigning and more time in the courtroom?

Trump has only held two campaign rallies since his Feb. 24 victory in the South Carolina primary, both on Saturday in North Carolina and Virginia.

He did visit the southern border on Thursday to promote his immigration agenda. But he turned around on Friday to attend a pre-trial hearing in Fort Pierce, Florida, in the case accusing him of mishandling and hiding classified documents.

After all, the former president must figure out how to pay more than a half-billion dollars in damages in a civil fraud trial and two defamation trials in which columnist E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of sexual assault.

According to his critics, the money chase explains another distraction for Trump: His efforts to seize full control of the Republican National Committee.

Trump allies, including daughter-in-law Lara Trump, are expected to be elected to RNC leadership positions at a meeting in Houston later this week. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and other Republicans say the former president wants to funnel RNC money into his legal expenses, though his aides say they have no plan to do so in the coming months.

Will Donald Trump delay his criminal trials?

The Supreme Court's decision on Monday lifted one headache for Trump, but that's far from the last legal hurdle he faces in 2024.

Trump is preparing for the very real prospect of a hush money trial in New York starting March 25, which he's required to attend.

The New York case, which involves paying women to keep them quiet right before the 2016 election, could take up to six weeks, into early May.

However, the Supreme Court is currently considering Trump's claim of blanket immunity in his criminal trials. That appeal has already delayed a federal trial, in which Trump is accused of conspiring to steal the 2020 election from President Joe Biden.

The former president and his legal team are also backing attempts to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from a Georgia case election case. And Trump is still seeking to push back the classified documents trial past Election Day on Nov. 5.

Trump has acknowledged that his campaign schedule and legal calendar are set to collide in 2024, with the former president looking for ways to campaign in and around trial appearances, perhaps on nights and weekends.

"I'll be here during the day and campaigning during the night," Trump told reporters after a recent hearing, adding without evidence that "they want to keep me nice and busy so I can't campaign so hard."

'Chaos and division'

Haley, Trump's last remaining Republican opponent, has long taken shots at Trump's various legal problems. His one-time United Nations ambassador has told GOP voters that Trump's massive indictments – and his potential absence from the campaign trail during trials – will cost him and other Republicans victory in November.

"Republicans closest to Washington’s dysfunction know that Donald Trump has brought nothing but chaos and division for the past 8 years," Haley said on the social media platform X after winning the Republican primary in Washington. "It's time to start winning again and move our nation forward!"

It's not clear Haley's campaign message is swaying Republican voters, however. Seeking to regain the office he lost to Biden in 2020, Trump won Republican races in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Haley's home state of South Carolina.

And despite lawsuits and the prospects of criminal trials, Trump is heavily favored in most if not all of the primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday.

But even if Trump continues to defeat Haley in the coming weeks, those wins may not clear a path heading into the general election.

The Associated Press reported that, according to its VoteCast surveys of the first three GOP contests, "2 in 10 Iowa voters, one-third of New Hampshire voters, and one-quarter of South Carolina voters would be so disappointed by Trump’s re-nomination that they would refuse to vote for him in the fall."

Results and polls from previous contests indicated that Trump has major problems with more moderate Haley voters and independents. Both of these groups could cost Trump a close general election and potentially lead to another loss against Biden.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 2, 2024.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 2, 2024.

Trump's base doesn't care about trials

Trump and aides believe the indictments helped his candidacy - and so do supporters who continue to flock to his rallies, however fewer they may be.

On Saturday, outside the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in North Carolina, a massive crowd of supporters assembled hours before Trump arrived for a traditional get-out-the vote rally.

Waiting in a line that snaked through the parking lot, listening to a background music soundtrack that mixed country and hip-hop, many supporters of the former president told USA TODAY part of the attraction is Trump's unprecedented legal troubles. They feel a connection and want to rally around him.

“He needs to stay with that message because I think that’s why people are out here,”  Gilbert Jones, a 70-year-old retired restaurant manager who drove roughly 30 miles from Ruffin, North Carolina, said. “Everybody out here has a some point run into some moron in government - even you.”

Sherri Powell, 62, a farmer who hails from Siler City, North Carolina., stood outside the arena with her husband a good hour and a half before doors opened.  She said she prefers it when Trump talks more about solving America’s problems, such as the migrant crisis, rather than his various indictments.

“As far as the lawsuits, if you’re like me and you hang out on a farm, you’re not going anywhere and hearing about people being judged improperly,” Powell said.

Nevertheless, as Trump remains focused on his criminal trials and lawsuits, it looks like he's paying less attention to voters like Jones, Powell and the rest of his base, a risk as the 2024 general election draws closer.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump juggles campaign, criminal trials ahead of Super Tuesday