With his third run for the White House underway, former President Donald Trump is planning to bill himself as a foreign-policy dove among the hawks.
Campaign insiders told Politico that Trump believes painting himself as the anti-war candidate will allow him to make inroads with Republican voters who are divided on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and skeptical of continuing to support Ukraine.
"Trump is the peace president and he's the first president in two generations to not start a war, whereas if you look at [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis' congressional record, he's voted for more engagement and more military engagement overseas," a person close to the Trump campaign told Politico.
In the past week, the former president has claimed he could end the nearly year-long war in Ukraine within "24 hours," but did not give an indication as to how, and suggested that sending tanks to the Ukrainians could set off a nuclear war. He also denounced the Chinese spy balloon and called DeSantis a "RINO globalist."
Trump's renewed focus on foreign policy comes as the Republican primary field is expected to crowd with challengers eager to pitch their international affairs credentials, including his former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"Trump is the only person who has said no more funding for the Ukraine war," Politico's source said. "I haven't heard Nikki Haley say anything like that … Pompeo or Pence? Where do they stand on Ukraine?"
To varying degrees, Haley, Pompeo, and Pence all have called for the U.S. to support Ukraine and occasionally have criticized the Biden administration for what they perceived as not doing enough.
Trump's revamped "America First" paradigm already has had a noticeable impact on the prevailing attitudes of the GOP and neo-conservative establishment when it comes to foreign policy.
The previously-hawkish Heritage Foundation dropped its long-running calls for a sizeable defense budget last week and said that cuts to Pentagon funding should be explored as part of debt ceiling negotiations.
"I do think national security is going to be a much more important issue in 2024 than in many of the most recent presidential elections," Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton told Politico. "You may have noticed there’s a Chinese balloon floating over the country today."
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