“Tonight I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the United States,” Trump said Tuesday at a rally in Orlando, Florida.
“We are going to keep America great again,” Trump told the packed arena in Orlando, Florida. “Oh, we will keep it so great.”
Over the course of a speech that lasted 80 minutes, the Republican president decried illegal immigration, the news media and his 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
He also took credit for a strong economy, said he was putting the heat on China on trade, vowed to protect Americans’ rights to own guns, promoted his proposal for a “space force” and said he wanted to launch a space mission to the planet Mars.
Trump also declared himself a victim and aired his grievances.
He made an issue of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. “We went through the biggest witch hunt in political history,” said Trump. “It was all an illegal attempt to overturn the results of the election.”
Mueller’s probe reportedly did not find sufficient evidence to prove that Trump’s election campaign colluded with Moscow. It also described numerous attempts by Trump to obstruct Mueller’s probe, but stopped short of declaring that he committed a crime.
The lingering aftermath of the Russia probe, coupled with presidential style name-callings and controversial tweets, has undermined some Americans’ confidence in Trump.
Democrats cite a string of broken promises in Trump’s first term, from closing corporate tax loopholes to lowering drug prices and stopping factory closures.
“Donald Trump is launching his campaign for re-election tonight and the American people face a choice – we can make Trump an aberration or let him fundamentally and forever alter the character of this nation,” said Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager for Democratic front-runner Joe Biden.
Opinion polls show Trump is running consistently behind his main Democratic rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden, by as many as 10 points.
Even Republican strategists say Trump faces challenges in his re-election campaign given his bare-knuckled approach, which he refuses to temper.
The Orlando Sentinel welcomed the president’s visit with an editorial titled: “Our endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump.”