U.S. President Donald Trump launched his 2020 reelection campaign Tuesday much the same way he rose to power in 2016, with a raucous, nationalist rally stirring up fears of illegal immigration and vowing to fight for blue-collar workers.
Lashing out at his Democratic opponents as radical leftists fueled by "hatred" and out to "rip your country apart," Trump promised an "earthquake at the ballot box" next year. "We did it once and we're going to do it again," he promised some 20,000 ecstatic supporters in Orlando, Florida. "And that is why tonight I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the U.S." He painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of "un-American conduct" and telling the crowd that Democrats "want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it." "A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream," he said, ripping "radical" and "unhinged" Democrats even as he made only passing mention of any of the men and women running to replace him.
Florida will be one of the key swing states in 2020 if Trump is to defeat the nominee chosen from a field of 23 Democratic hopefuls. Trump's strongest card is the current health of the US economy, which he described as "the envy of the world." But Trump said that the "American dream" itself is in peril from illegal immigrants, insisting that his stuttering Mexico wall project would still go ahead.
The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump's 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his improbably successful run three years ago. While Trump's campaign has tried to professionalize, with shiny office space and a large and growing staff, and despite two-and-a-half years occupying the Oval Office as America's commander-in-chief, Trump nonetheless remained focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington. And he appeared eager for a rerun of 2016, spending considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, whose name elicited "Lock her up!" chants, than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot.