Amid overlapping investigations and the looming possibility of arrest, the ardor of these supporters has not faded but, many said, has grown only stronger.
Who’s Running for President in 2024?
The race begins. Four years after a historically large number of candidates ran for president, the field for the 2024 campaign is starting out small and is likely to be headlined by the same two men who ran last time: President Biden and Donald Trump. Here’s who has entered the race so far, and who else might run:
“I think it’s really disgusting,” said Leslie Splendoria, 71, who arrived early in Waco and said she had supported Mr. Trump since his first presidential run. “They’re trying to do anything they can to get rid of him.” She came to the event from Hutto, Texas, north of Austin, with her ex-husband, her daughter, her 3-year-old granddaughter and a small wagon of supplies for the long wait in line.
“No one is safe,” said her daughter, Kimberly Splendoria, 38, wearing a red MAGA sweatshirt and a Trump hat and holding her daughter, Gigi. “They can just throw you in jail, indict you.”
“Look at what happened on Jan. 6,” said Bob Splendoria, Leslie’s ex-husband. “You happened to be there and they arrest you.” He and Leslie said they had wanted to attend the protest in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, but could not make it. Both said they would not have entered the Capitol.
Hours later, Mr. Trump arrived, his plane buzzing the crowd with a flyover before landing.
His speech was a familiar festival of grievances and focused heavily on his legal jeopardy, portraying his expected indictment by a New York grand jury as a result of what he claimed was a Democratic conspiracy to persecute him. He also argued that the United States was turning into a “banana republic.”
One of the early speakers at the event, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas, told attendees that he had pushed for Waco as the rally site after a call from Mr. Trump seeking suggestions. Speaking later to reporters, Mr. Patrick said he preferred Waco because it was centrally located and could attract Trump supporters from around the state. He said he had been unaware that it was the 30th anniversary of the bloody standoff with the Branch Davidians. “Nobody knew until some of you brought it up,” he said.
Mr. Trump’s political strength has long proved difficult to fully measure. While polls show that he enjoys a commanding advantage in a Republican primary field, most surveys also show that about half of the party’s voters would prefer another nominee at this early phase in the 2024 contest.