Trump Launches Reelection Bid President Trump declared the start to his 2020 campaign Tuesday night, trying to define Democrats as extreme. He called on familiar themes of grievance and promises of greatness.
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Trump Launches Reelection Bid

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Trump Launches Reelection Bid

Trump Launches Reelection Bid

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Tonight, I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the United States. Thank you.

(CHEERING)

NOEL KING, HOST:

All right. You heard it - President Trump officially kicking off his reelection campaign last night. Once again, he promised to beat the establishment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country as we know it - not acceptable. It's not going to happen.

KING: All right. He was talking at a rally in Orlando, Fla. About 20,000 of his supporters were there. Also there - NPR's White House correspondent Tamara Keith. She's on the line from Orlando. Hi, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: So that sounded a lot like Donald Trump in 2016. Does the president have a new message for 2020?

KEITH: You know, he essentially picked up where he left off at the end of his 2016 campaign. You know, the soundtrack is the same, and I'm not speaking metaphorically here. I'm speaking literally. The music, the songs, the walk up song, the walk off song, everything in between - all the same, and so are the arguments. Hillary Clinton and her email server still got a whole lot of attention last night; in fact, more attention than his potential Democratic opponents in 2020. So he closed out the 2016 campaign talking about the system being rigged, saying the election could be stolen from him. Now, he's the president of the United States, and he's saying that the other party is trying to erase people's votes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country as we know it - not acceptable. It's not going to happen.

KEITH: A typical reelection message would be to talk about what the president has accomplished and to talk about what he'd like to accomplish in the future. But that's not where his passion was. His passion was in talking about various grievances, talking about Hillary Clinton and the lock-her-up chants. And when he talked about the economy and trade and taxes, he really stuck to the script.

KING: This accusation about Democrats wanting to erase people's votes, that's really interesting. What is he talking about there?

KEITH: He is talking about the Russia investigation and Robert Mueller's report and Democrats in Congress still continuing to investigate him and, you know, as he says, wanting a do-over with the investigation. This has very strong echoes of what he was saying in 2016 about people potentially stealing the election or rigging the election. But he continues with this. In a way, he is taking his upset and concern and worry about the investigations and making it about his supporters, putting - taking it and and placing it on them as well.

KING: I know that you talked to a lot of the president's supporters at the rally. What's on their minds? Do they care that he's not saying that much that is forward-looking?

KEITH: No, not really. One person I talked to was like, you know, the rallies are all the same. He'd been to 16 of them. The rallies are all the same. But, you know, now he has some more accomplishments to talk about. You know, what I heard from a lot of people, both at the rally and in reporting leading up to it, was a lot of talk about socialism. This is something that he talked about in the State of the Union address and has been talking about in the many rallies he's held since then. But his supporters are now talking about it, too, and in very personal terms. And we should say that even though the president says that this election is going to be a choice between socialism and freedom, none of the Democratic candidates, even Bernie Sanders who calls himself a democratic socialist, want sort of traditional socialism. They're talking about social programs.

KING: Yeah. In the couple seconds we have left, I mean, the election is more than 500 days away. We just expect this going forward?

KEITH: Yeah. The rallies will sort of slowly ramp up to be more frequent. At this point, it's about, you know, one every two or three weeks. But this is what - this is it.

KING: All right. In for the long haul, NPR's Tamara Keith in Orlando. Thanks, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome.

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