In Florida on Tuesday night, Donald Trump partied like it was 2016.
Officially launching his re-election bid, Trump played all the old favorites, lashing out at the “fake news” media, stoking fears about immigrants, calling for a border wall, and repeatedly attacking “crooked” Hilary Clinton.
With recent polling suggesting that Trump is trailing his main Democratic opponents in key states, the president sought with Tuesday night’s rally to solidify his core support by returning to the issues and talking points that got him elected the first time around.
But while he was trying to “Make America Great Again” in 2016, now he’s trying to “Keep America Great.”
Aside from a new campaign slogan, Trump's raucous rally in front of 20,000 people in Orlando’s Amway Center lacked any new policy ideas or a vision of what another four years of Trump would mean for the country — except more of the same.
The president mostly avoided any mention of his possible Democratic 2020 opponents, labeling all 23 candidates as an “angry left-wing mob.” Though he did take a moment to call out “Sleepy” Joe Biden, who is currently leading in the polls for the Democratic nomination and who many see as the match-up that could do most to undermine Trump’s voter base.
Instead, he focused most of his anger on his 2016 presidential opponent, and her “deleted and acid-washed 33,000 emails,” which inevitably led to chants of “Lock her up.”
The president issued dark warnings to anyone in the crowd even thinking of voting Democrats, saying it would signal the end of the American dream and usher in an era of socialism — all without providing any proof to back up his claims.
"They are really going after you,” Trump said. “They are trying to erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history of the country. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country as we know it."
Trump said America will never be a socialist country, and in the same breath promised to protect Medicare and Social Security.
Trump, a president whose party controls the Senate, portrayed his campaign as that of the outsider taking on the elite in Washington.
“Our political opponents look down with hatred on our values and with utter disdain for the people whose lives they want to run,” Trump told his supporters.
Just as he did in 2016, Trump relied on hyperbole, exaggeration and outright lies during his speech.
“We accomplished more than any other president has in the first 2½ years of a presidency and under circumstances that no president has had to deal with before,” Trump claimed.
Trump peppered his speech with lies: claiming Obama “did nothing” to combat Russian interference, suggesting he implemented the “the biggest tax cut in history” and saying his trade war with China has been a huge success.
Trump has been on the sidelines of the 2020 conversation so far. But as his Democratic opponents gear up for the first primary debate in Florida next week, Trump is ready to be front and center once again. According to the Wall Street Journal, he is planning to live-tweet the debate, despite his advisers’ concerns that mentioning opponents by name risks elevating their profiles and boosting their popularity.
Cover: First lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence greet supporters at a rally where Trump formally announced his 2020 re-election bid Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)