Trump launches bid for one more term

Top News | ASSOCIATED PRESS 20 Jun 2019

US President Donald Trump jabbed at the press and poked the eye of the political establishment he ran against in 2016 as he kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally that focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a possible second term.

Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando's Amway Center, Trump complained he was "under assault from the very first day" of his presidency by a "fake news media" and an "illegal witch hunt" that had tried to keep him and his supporters down.

He painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of "un-American conduct" and saying Democrats "want to destroy you and destroy our country as we know it."

He added: "A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream."

Trump made only passing mention of any of the Democrats running to replace him even as he tossed out "radical" and "unhinged" to describe the rival party.

The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump's 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his run three years ago. Even after two-and-a-half years in the Oval Office, Trump remains focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington.

In his speech, Trump spent considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot.

"Trump has been the best president we've ever had," said supporter Ron Freitas, a retired merchant marine.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a six-meter blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated. Some members of the far-right hate group Proud Boys were also spotted marching in Orlando outside the rally.

Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the former reality television star launched his longshot campaign for president with a famous escalator ride in front of a crowd that included paid actors. Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 race, calling it "a defining moment in American history."

He said in the years since, he had upended Washington, staring down "a corrupt and broken political establishment" and restoring a government "of, for and by the people."

He never has really stopped running. He filed for reelection on January 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February 2017 in nearby Melbourne. He has continued holding his signature "Make America Great Again" rallies in the months since.

Trump asked the crowd whether he should stick with "Make America Great Again" or upgrade his slogan. His new one - "Keep America Great" - was greeted with boisterous cheers.

Trump underscored that on the eve of the rally in must-win Florida, returning to the hardline immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement "will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States."

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