Trump fires up base to launch 2020 campaign
President Trump kicked off his 2020 re-election campaign this week with a warning to supporters that his “radical Democrat opponents” are leading an “angry, left-wing mob” that’s out to “destroy you” and “our country as we know it.” Before a raucous, 20,000-strong crowd at Orlando’s Amway Center, Trump stoked many of the same fears, resentments, and passions that catapulted him to a stunning upset in 2016. Gesturing to a press pen, he mocked the reporters as “a lot of fake news, back there” and called on the audience to ask them if his first election was not “a defining moment in American history.” Trump also railed against special counsel Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt” and gleefully revived complaints against “Crooked Hillary” and her missing emails. “They are really going after you,” Trump said of Washington, D.C.’s establishment. “They tried to erase your vote, erase the legacy of the greatest campaign” in the history of the country. The crowd responded with a familiar refrain: “Lock her up!”
Before boarding Air Force One for Florida, Trump promised the mass deportation of “millions of illegal aliens.” Some of the campaign’s internal voter surveys, though, indicate the harsh message may not resonate in many places. The Trump campaign sacked three pollsters following a leak of data showing Trump trailing Democratic front-runner Joe Biden by double digits in key battleground states such as Wisconsin and Michigan. Trump claimed the polling results were “fake” and insisted he was “winning everywhere.”
What the columnists said
Trump is “perpetually stuck in 2016” said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post, and there’s good reason for this nostalgia. Since his inauguration, he’s compiled a “woeful record” of cruelty, incompetence, fraudulence, greed, racism, criminality, vulgarity, and buffoonery. Trump is hoping his supporters don’t notice this record amid all the shouting.
Don’t be fooled by Trump’s theatrics, said Gabby Orr in Politico.com. This is not the ham-fisted Trump campaign of 2016. The president’s team has spent two and a half years building “a robust, modern, professional operation” with operatives in nine regions. He had a $40 million war chest even before the kickoff, and raised $24.8 million on his first day running. Plus, this time he has the Republican Party behind him. Don’t forget the moment in history we’re at, either, said Jon Gabriel in The Arizona Republic. If you think America will dump Trump, consider the tide of like-minded politicians in Australia, Britain, and Brazil who have triumphed. “Take a look around the globe. Trump is the new normal.”
Trump’s speech revealed his campaign’s strength—and its greatest flaw, said Noah Bierman in the Los Angeles Times. He gave ardent supporters what they wanted, showing he’s not taking his base for granted. “Trump has geared his rhetoric, policies, travel, and campaign apparatus almost exclusively toward the voters who unexpectedly put him in office.” That’s “a high-risk strategy,” but with little support from the center, Trump has few other options.