Donald Trump 2020: US president launches re-election campaign at Orlando rally vowing political 'earthquake'

Ben Riley-Smith

 

Donald Trump vowed to deliver another “earthquake at the ballot box” in 2020 as he formally launched his re-election campaign in front of 20,000 cheering supporters in Orlando, Florida. 

The US president warned that “the swamp” he had vowed to drain during his 2016 campaign was “fighting back so viciously and violently” that he needed another four years in office. 

Mr Trump boasted of his presidential achievements including creating a US economy that was “the envy of the world”, declaring: “The American dream is back.”

He also painted the Democratic Party, his political opponents, as “radical socialists”, warning: "They want to destroy you, they want to destroy our country as we know it."

The rally in a key swing state was well received among supporters in the stadium, who cheered and jeered at Mr Trump’s punch lines - including repeatedly booing the “fake news” media. 

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters where he formally announced his 2020 re-election bid on Tuesday in Orlando, Florida Credit: AP

Yet the president’s speech was largely devoid of new policy pledges, instead often repeating lines delivered on the 2018 midterm elections campaign trail.

Mr Trump made only passing reference to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, the two front-runners in the race for the Democrat 2020 presidential nomination. 

The president claimed 120,000 people had applied for tickets for his launch at Orlando's Amway Center. Certainly some had queued overnight and faced torrential rain on Tuesday. 

The speech was Mr Trump’s chance to frame the argument for the election, still more than a year away but increasingly beginning to dominate the US media narrative. 

Mr Trump picked a familiar overarching theme to his 2016 bid - that he was the best person to stand up for the "forgotten" men and women of America. 

“Together we faced down a corrupt and broken political establishment and created a government by, of and for the people,” Mr Trump said. 

At another point he said: “Since the very first day I walked through the doors of the White House I have never forgotten who sent me there. You did.” 

A supporter holds a placard during a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump formally kicking off his re-election bid in Orlando Credit: Reuters

Mr Trump said that every day in his office he thinks about "how the American people are going to win, win, win today". 

Large chunks of the speech were dedicated to spelling out how Americans had benefited during his first two-and-a-half years in office and warning what could follow if he left. 

“Our future has never, ever looked brighter and sharper,” Mr Trump said. “The American dream is back. It’s bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”

He listed how Americans had benefited from the booming US economy, which has reached annual growth rates of more than 2 per cent under his presidency. 

He said the unemployment rate was at its lowest for 51 years, the average household had saved $3,000 a year from his tax cut and more than 16,000 manufacturing jobs were being created every month. 

Mr Trump also named leaving the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate change agreement, squaring off with China over trade and standing up against socialist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela as accomplishments. 

Jared Kushner (L) and Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign Credit: AFP

There was mention of the need to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and stop immigrants “pouring” into the country but the topic was less prominent than in many previous speeches. 

Mr Trump also repeatedly cast the Democratic Party as a whole as “radical socialists”, an apparent attempt to jump on the surge of left-wing energy among party activists for political gain. 

He said the Democrats had been “inflicted with an ideological sickness” and that they were “more radical, more dangerous and more unhinged than at any time in our history”. 

"They want to destroy you, they want to destroy our country as we know it. It's not acceptable, it's not going to happen," Mr Trump said.

"No matter what label they use, a vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream.”

Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Mr Trump's politics are "all about dividing us" in ways that are "dangerous - truly, truly dangerous."

Another leading Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Mr Trump had delivered "an hour-and-a-half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense."

The speech was preceeded with addresses by Mike Pence, the vice president, as well as Mr Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. 

Throughout supporters appeared to be enjoying themselves, shouting familiar chants including “build the wall” and “four more years”. 

The rally in total lasted more than three hours.

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