Former US president Donald Trump has been telephoning Republicans apparently pleading with them to attend his presidential campaign launch.
He is publicly launching his 2024 White House bid this weekend with events in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The gatherings in the two key early voting states are being billed as more intimate affairs than his trademark rallies, with more than a few prominent Republicans expected to be absent.
For weeks, the former president’s staff have reportedly blitzed the phones of Republican officials in South Carolina with pleading calls to attend his launch.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a close friend, and South Carolina’s governor, Henry McMaster, are the state’s only confirmed senior officials attending. Others appear to be biding their time, with some polls showing many voters would prefer a new leader in 2024.
Mr Trump’s struggles reflect broader obstacles he faces to be his party’s nominee after a stalled launch last November.
He has been largely out of the public gaze since, with some GOP figures questioning the merits of his low-profile strategy.
Mr Trump is still considered the frontrunner and in a boost for 76-year-old Mr Trump, the latest round of polling this week showed him leading his nearest challenger, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, by significant margins.
Mr Trump was 26 points ahead of Mr DeSantis, with 55pc to 29pc, in an Emerson College poll.
The same survey found Mr Trump led Joe Biden by 44 to 41pc. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2023)
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