President Donald Trump launched his re-election campaign late Tuesday with a speech that reprised familiar notes of grievance and resentment from his first White House run, but that also proclaimed, just two years into his presidency, that he has largely fixed what ails America.
Speaking in Orlando, Florida to a crowd of thousands of ardent supporters, the president cited his 2020 campaign slogan “promises made, promises kept,” as he hailed what he touted as unmatched achievements in office, especially on the economy.
“The fact is, the American Dream is back,” he proclaimed. “It’s bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”
Just two-and-a-half years into his administration, Trump made an earlier-than-usual campaign relaunch in Orlando, Florida, a state critically important to his re-election chances, which he called during his speech, his “second home.”
He painted a portrait of a nation that had reclaimed its rightful place as the world’s leading producer of energy, but could still boast pristine water and air. On trade, he boasted about having pulled the United States out of the Trans Pacific Partnership.
“T.P.P. would have dealt a death blow to the U.S. auto industry,” calling it “a job-killing catastrophe.” He told the crowd that they profited handsomely from his tax reforms, although economists have definitively determined that is not the case — that it is the rich and corporations who benefitted.
The president declared that the case for his re-election, as much than anything else, is the political “movement” he has forged with his fervent, MAGA-hat wearing supporters.
“Exactly four years ago this week I announced my campaign for president of the United States,” Trump said to cheers and applause.
“And it turned out to be more than just a political campaign, it turned out to be a great political movement because of you. A great movement. It’s a movement made up of hard-working patriots who love their country, love their flag, love their children, and who believe that a nation must care for its own citizens first.”
The president’s hour-and-a-half long campaign speech dovetailed with one he made during his January 2017 inauguration, when he decried “American carnage” — a hellscape of crime, gangs, drugs and “so much unrealized potential.”
Now, just past the mid-way point of his presidency, Trump claims to have turned all that around. “Together, we stared down a broken and corrupt political establishment and we restored government of, by, and for the people,” he declared.
“Our country is now thriving, prospering and booming and, frankly, it’s soaring to incredible new heights. Our economy is the envy of the world, perhaps the greatest economy we have had in the history of our country.”
And Trump insisted that this vision of progress and prosperity will continue — but only if he’s re-elected in November 2020.
“As long as you keep this team in place, we have a tremendous way to go, our future has never ever looked brighter or sharper,” he said.
Trump vowed again to build a wall separating Mexico from the United States, a divisive campaign promise that became the centerpiece of his 2016 run.
That project has not been realized — congresses controlled by Republicans and Democrats on repeated occasions have managed to deny him funding for the project, money he eventually decided to claw from some Defense Department projects.
The president vowed to his supporters that the wall and other controversial parts of his agenda will not be thwarted in his second presidential term.
“I have news for Democrats who want to return us to the bitter failures and betrayals of the past, we are not going back. We are going on to victory,” Trump shouted over thunderous applause.
Trump’s most pointed comments were reserved for the subject of immigration, pledging to “end sanctuary cities, end catch and release, deport vicious gang members — which we’re doing — stop human trafficking, stop illegal immigration, and establish a modern immigration system based on skills, contributions, and based on merit — we want people to come into our country based on merit.”
The one sour note from his visit to Orlando came not from the unabashed adoration from his supporters — some of whom had started camping out to hear him two days before the speech was delivered — but from the local newspaper.
The Orlando Sentinel timed the publication of brutally critical editorial to coincide with Tuesday’s coming-out party. The editorial was an endorsement — not for Trump, or for any particular opponent, but for anyone but him, whoever said challenger for the White House turns out to be.
“After 2 1/2 years, we’ve seen enough,” the daily wrote in the article that offered a summation of the worst of the Trump years, from the 10,000 lies he is reported to have told while in office to “the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, (and) the corruption.”
“The nation must endure, another 1 1/2 years of Trump,” the Sentinel’s editorial board summed up.
“But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that. We can do better,” it wrote. “We have to do better.”