VANDALIA, Ohio — On the climactic, final night of the 2022 midterm campaigns, Donald J. Trump hosted a rally to help lift a Senate hopeful in Ohio — and instead grabbed the spotlight entirely for himself.
In a windy oration on a chilly airport tarmac outside Dayton, Mr. Trump spent the vast majority of his time talking about his four years as president, the multiple investigations he has survived, the handful of new investigations he is now facing, and, once again, a drawn-out tease about his plan to probably-potentially-in-all-likelihood announce a third campaign for president.
This time, however, he named the date and place.
“I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Nov. 15 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” he said in the final minutes of his 100-minute speech.
Mr. Trump has never been one to share the stage for very long, and, to be sure, the vast majority of men and women who waited hours for his jet to taxi to a halt and disgorge the former president did so in order to see him more than to hear J.D. Vance, the Republican Senate candidate in the state, urge them to the polls.
But the rally was held ostensibly to support Mr. Vance, a first-time candidate who polls show has had trouble pulling away from Representative Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee.
Mr. Trump gave Mr. Vance exactly a minute at the microphone.
Mr. Trump has continued to walk right up to the line of announcing a third consecutive White House campaign. He even told people earlier on Monday that he was considering declaring himself a candidate at the rally that night.
But doing so risked backfiring by highlighting the stakes of the election for Democrats and others who recoil from Mr. Trump, and motivating those who have not voted yet to get to the polls on Tuesday.
Some friends and advisers have urged Mr. Trump to wait until at least January, fearing that “Trump fatigue” contributed to his loss in 2020 and sensing that voters will want a break after a vicious midterm season.
The former president seemed to acknowledge the risks during his Ohio speech by explaining to supporters why he had stopped short of making a full-blown announcement from the rally stage.
“We want nothing to distract from the importance of tomorrow,” he said.
For the former prime-time TV star and branding magnate, that’s easier said than done.