Trump begins ’20 re-election bid, raises $24.8m on day one - GulfToday

Trump begins ’20 re-election bid, raises $24.8m on day one

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Donald Trump. File

President Donald Trump jabbed at the press and poked the political establishment he ran against in 2016 as he kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally 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 on Tuesday night, 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 they want to destroy our country as we know it.”

“A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,” he said.

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.

Trump raised $24.8 million less than 24 hours after kicking off his reelection campaign, a figure that dwarfs what the top Democratic contenders took in over the course of months.

The staggering total was announced in a tweet on Wednesday morning by Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

She declared that it was proof that “enthusiasm across the country for this president is unmatched and unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

Trump’s massive haul is a demonstration of the power of incumbency, underscoring simmering Democratic worries they are not doing enough to prepare for the match-up with Trump. It’s also a sign that Trump’s fundraising operation is already in high gear at a time when many Democratic donors have yet to engage and their party contends with a sprawling primary that has drawn more than 20 candidates.

Many Democratic White House candidates have hyped their fundraising pulls in the 24 hours after launching their campaign. Former Vice President Joe Biden reported a $6.3 million haul in the first 24 hours, Texas’ Beto O’Rourke took in $6.1 million and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders reported $5.9 million.

Trump beat all three combined, including the front-runner Biden, whom he bested by nearly fourfold.

Still, his campaign has yet to release a breakdown of how he raised the money, leaving it unclear how much was raised from wealthy Republican megadonors, versus grassroots supporters who chipped in a few dollars online.

Trump has long railed against the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the ongoing probes by House Democrats in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s report.

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.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot (6-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 outside the rally.

Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the former reality television star and New York tabloid fixture 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 that 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 re-election on Jan. 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 is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to take charge of the Republican Party and then the presidency as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo.

In 2016, he successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. He has no intention of abandoning that mantle, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.

Agencies