Trump campaign 2024: The grift continues
Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a New Years event at his Mar-a-Lago home on December 31, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Donald J. Trump for President 2024, Inc. campaign has officially filed its year-end financials with the Federal Election Commission.

The filing lists the over 40,000 individuals who have donated to the campaign, as well as detailed filings on expenses.

The filing also lists the itemized expenses for the campaign — well over 100 transactions that total more than $750,000.

Nearly 10 percent of Trump's expenses have gone to two Trump entities --- the Trump International Golf Club and his Mar-a-Lago Golf Club for facility rental and catering services.

Exactly $68,987.88 of the Trump campaign's $760,394.47 of expenditures have been spent on the Trump entities. And it continues a years-long pattern of Trump's political committees spending donor dollars at Trump properties in a manner that directly benefits Trump's for-profit businesses.

More than 600 days ahead of the next election, Trump remains the Republican frontrunner, but his grip on the rank-and-file has loosened during his two years in the wilderness since exiting the Oval Office.

"Mr Trump's conduct since announcing his candidacy for the 2024 Republican nomination has weakened his credibility within his party," Brookings Institution senior fellow William Galston said in a recent commentary.

The 76-year-old Trump has been unusually low-key since announcing his latest presidential run on November 15, cocooned at his Mar-a-Lago beach home in south Florida and declining to hold a single public event.

But he heads onto the stump facing simmering discontent over midterm elections that saw a series of extremist candidates he had backed rejected in crucial battleground states.

The former reality TV star also has riled establishment Republicans over a dinner he hosted in Florida with a notorious Holocaust denier and the anti-Semitic, Hitler-admiring rapper formerly known as Kanye West.

His continued election denialism and a call in December for the termination of the Constitution to reinstate him to office also sparked a chorus of opprobrium.

'Narrow path'

In Congress and around the country, some Republicans are openly suggesting the party is ready for a younger, fresher face -- someone who is less polarizing and unencumbered by the constant drip of scandal.

Two South Carolina Republicans in their 50s -- Senator Tim Scott and former governor Nikki Haley -- are believed to be eyeing potential presidential runs, and neither is expected to show up on Saturday.

Galston said while Trump still has a "narrow path" to victory in 2024, the former president was "increasingly seen as a loser -- and rightly so" after the midterms.

But the battle for the nomination could wind up a two-horse race between Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who would be unlikely to announce until after the Sunshine State's legislative session ends in May.

If DeSantis does run, he will be hoping for a more successful launch than Trump, who saw no polling bump after his November announcement.

Hush money

Mounting legal woes still appear however to be the biggest roadblock for Trump, whose company was convicted on 17 counts of tax fraud and related offenses the week before he announced his run.

He is facing criminal probes in Atlanta and New York over election interference allegations and a hush money payment to a porn star.

Federal prosecutors are scrutinizing his handling of misappropriated government secrets, his role in the 2021 assault on the US Capitol and his attempts to overturn his election defeat.

He is also defending lawsuits in New York over a mid-1990s rape accusation and an alleged fraud that misled lenders, insurers and tax authorities over a period of years.

But counting out the perennial comeback kid could yet prove to be a mistake, say those who point to the success of Trump's brand as an insurgent who doesn't play by the rules.

Political scientist Jeff Broxmeyer told AFP that while the midterms had likely eroded Trump's mainstream support, his scandals had done him little harm among his base.

"Perpetual legal suits and coalition building with far-right figures are central features of Trump's appeal to Republican primary voters -- not obstacles to it," the University of Toledo professor said.

(With additional reporting from AFP)