ORLANDO, Fla. — It was everything Donald Trump wanted, and so much more.
The optics-obsessed president was greeted by thousands of adoring supporters when he arrived here on Tuesday to kick off his bid for a second term. In lieu of a red carpet, a sea of red, white and camouflage hats provided the backdrop for his first official campaign rally of the 2020 cycle.
As soon as Trump took the stage in his signature red tie, the crowd seemed pleased to have waited. They greeted him with “USA” chants as he recalled the “movement” he started four years ago.
“It turned out to be more than just a great political campaign. It turned out to be a great political movement because of you,” the president said, echoing the same nationalist message that became a staple of his first presidential run. “It’s a movement made up of people … who believe that a nation must care for its own citizens first.”
Fans camped out since dusk on Monday to secure a spot inside the 20,000-seat Amway Center. They began chanting familiar slogans as anticipation built for the evening’s main act and familiar characters took the stage. Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., riled up the crowd with a series of attacks against Joe Biden, a telling sign that his father views the former vice president as his likeliest opponent. Vice President Mike Pence promised the crowd that four more years “means more jobs, more judges … and at least four more years to drain the swamp.”
Trump picked up where his vice president left off as he took the mic, ticking through the items he can accomplish if granted another term and highlighting what he’s done so far. He talked about passing a criminal justice bill and healthcare reforms for veterans, doubling the child tax credit for American families and confronting the opioid crisis.
“Together we’re breaking the most sacred rule of Washington politics: We are keeping our promises to the American people,” he said.
But the president couldn’t help but focus on the trials of his first White House bid, too — time he might have otherwise spent targeting his current Democratic opponents.
In one particular riff about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his 2016 rival, the president said she received favorable treatment during the course of an investigation into her private email server.
“If I deleted one email, like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,” he said. Trump later added that the 2020 Democratic field, like Clinton, wants to “splinter us into factions and tribes,” reminding the audience that she once labeled his supporters “deplorables.”
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