MATTHEWS: The 2024 presidential campaign craziness cranks up 

This combination of photos shows Republican presidential candidates, top row from left, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former president Donald Trump, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, center row from left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy and bottom row from left, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Ryan Binkley, Perry Johnson and Larry Elder. (AP Photo)

It seems that with every presidential election cycle including the run-up to party primaries, things get crazier earlier on in contrast with the previous one. 

The 2024 campaign season has been no exception to that rule. 

Former President Donald Trump, now a 2024 GOP presidential contender, has been hit in five months’ time with three indictments. But instead of hurting him as Democrats likely thought it would, Trump’s legal troubles have helped him both in primary polling and general election polling, with his numbers rising in both every time a new indictment is announced. 

Currently, he’s the clear front-runner in Republican primary polls in most battleground states and national polls, and some general election polls show him ahead of President Joe Biden. 

Last Friday, during a speech at an Alabama Republican Party fundraising dinner, Trump quipped, “We need one more indictment to close out this election, one more indictment, and this election is closed out.” 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has consistently finished second behind Trump in most of these polls due, in my opinion, to circumstances that are for the most part beyond his control, like the “rally around” effect Trump’s indictments have had on his supporters, with his name constantly being in the news cycle. 

Nevertheless, DeSantis is continuing to do the work in getting his message out there, which we recently learned would also include an upcoming debate with California’s Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, which is something you rarely see in presidential campaign politics considering Newsom is not running for president himself. 

Newsom, as readers of this column will recall, has been busy for the last 18 months trying to convince voters he is the smartest man in America in hopes they’ll see him as a formidable backup to Biden should the president bow out of the race — and should voters not see Vice President Kamala Harris as a viable second choice. 

Newsom has also periodically zeroed in on DeSantis, who he has painted as a far-right conservative extremist. DeSantis has more than held his own in the cross-country war of words between the two, but the lively debate match-up will undoubtedly take things to the next level. Some have said that the debate has the potential to make or break DeSantis’ campaign. 

Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., meanwhile, has been busy trying to throw a wrench into Biden’s reelection campaign by demanding primary debates be held, something in which incumbent presidents rarely participate. 

Partially because he’s a Kennedy and partially because it appears the powers that be would like him to be quiet, Kennedy has gotten a lot of attention in the press, so much so that he and third-party declarants have some Democrat operatives seriously worried that they could hurt Biden’s campaign just enough to give the Republican nominee an advantage in 2024. 

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), another presidential candidate and one who has been polling in the single digits, appears to be rising some among the Republican faithful. His upbeat, optimistic tone as well as his faith-based message to primary voters is being credited. 

“We will be the nation where we honor our creator and respect every innocent life. This is who we are,” Scott said during his announcement speech in May. “This is who we can be. This is the freest, fairest land where you can go as high as your character and your grit and your talent will take you.” 

And, as it turns out, maybe as far as politically motivated indictments will take you as well. 

North Carolina native Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a media analyst and regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.