Trump kicks off 2020 campaign at Orlando rally
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Jabbing at the press and poking the eye of the political establishment he ran against in 2016, President Donald Trump officially kicked off his re-election campaign today with a grievance-filled Florida rally that focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a second term.
Addressing a crowd of thousands at the Amway Center, Trump complained he had been "under assault from the very first day" of his presidency by a "fake news media" and "illegal witch hunt" that had tried to keep him and his supporters down.
And 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."
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 considerable time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, whose name elicited "Lock her up!" chants, even though she is not on the ballot.
"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 said.
Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 run, calling it "a defining moment in American history." And he said he had fundamentally upended Washington, staring down "a corrupt and broken political establishment" and restoring a government "of, for and by the people."
Of course, Trump never really stopped running. He officially filed for re-election on January 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne, Florida. He has continued holding his signature "Make America Great Again" rallies in the months since.