Trump may not run in 2024 -- but he needs to pretend he will for attention: GOP sources
President Donald Trump delivers an update on the COVID-19 vaccine development on Nov. 13, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

President Donald Trump may or may not run for president again in 2024, but he wants everyone to think so to keep the spotlight on himself.

The president has been calling up his allies asking what he must do to "stay part of the conversation" for the next two years, when he'll gauge his chances of winning and decide whether another campaign is worth the effort, according to sources who spoke to Politico.

“Trump has probably no idea if he will actually run, but because he only cares about himself and his association with the party has only been about his ambitions rather than what it stands for, he will try to freeze the field and keep as many people on the sidelines,” said one former White House aide. “Just for the sake of keeping his options open and, yes, keeping the attention all for himself.”

Trump hasn't formally announced he'll run in four years because he won't acknowledge he lost the Nov. 3 election, and because he doesn't want to deal with financial disclosure forms, building a campaign infrastructure and risking another loss.

Instead, according to 11 Republicans who worked for Trump or helped in his previous two campaigns, he just wants to keep attention focused on him to help boost whatever business ventures he tackles after leaving the White House.

Trump has been asking his allies -- Sean Hannity, Bill Shine, Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie and Ric Grenell -- how he can sustain a campaign for four years and what he should do for the next two, and he's intrigued with visiting the Middle East, where's he's been well-received in the past.

Some allies have urged him to announce his campaign on Inauguration Day, to take attention away from Joe Biden, but son-in-law Jared Kushner and 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien have advised him to wait, according to two sources.

“He’s going to announce,” according to one person familiar with the discussions. “It’s not a question of whether he will announce. The question is when he is going to announce.”