President Donald Trump formally kicked off his bid for re-election on Tuesday night with a rally in Orlando, Florida, and an introduction from wife Melania Trump.
The massive kickoff event was a stark reversal of the president’s 2015 announcement that he was entering the race and it was strategically designed with the 2020 election in mind (Florida is a key swing state).
But – in a reaction presaging the challenges for him to win a second term – the Orlando newspaper announced the same day as the kickoff that it was endorsing anyone but Trump for the presidency. The Sentinel has a history of supporting Republican candidates.
“Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies,” the paper’s editorial board wrote.
A similar hashtag, #anybodybuttrump, cropped up on Twitter.
The president has grappled with weak approval ratings since he took office and has continually redirected his administration’s attention to personal feuds, such as with the late Sen. John McCain, over policy.
While Trump has used executive authority to curb immigration across the country and push for a new status quo on trade, both signature 2016 campaign vows, his efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act were a notorious failure – which Democrats say helped them return to power in last year’s midterm elections.
Inside his 2020 event on Tuesday, however, the energy was high.
“Good evening Orlando,” Mrs. Trump said to chants of “USA! USA!” from the crowd at the Amway Center before her husband took the stage.
“It has been my honor to serve as first lady of this incredible country for the past two years,” she continued. “I’m excited to do it for six more.”
Saying that she is proud of what the administration has accomplished so far, Mrs. Trump added that the president “truly loves this country and will continue to work on your behalf as long as he can. All of us will.”
The “USA!” chants picked up again before Trump took the podium and several times throughout his 76-minute speech.
During his speech, Trump addressed Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ exit from the White House, saying, ” We’re gonna miss her.”
“By the way, a woman who has been so good so talented so wonderful and we’re sort of going to be losing, I have a feeling she’s going to be running for a certain gubernatorial position,” Trump said of Sanders, who briefly took the stage and called her job in Trump’s administration the “honor of a lifetime.”
RELATED: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is Leaving the White House: ‘A Very Special Person,’ Says Trump
Before outlining several sweeping promises should he be re-elected – including not only a cure for cancer but the eradication of AIDS, as well as landing American astronauts on Mars – he introduced a new slogan that played on his controversial 2016 campaign message: ” Keep America Great ” rather than “Make America Great Again.”
He also took shots at Democrats, deriding former Vice President Joe Biden (a chief rival who has been out-polling him) as ” Sleepy Joe ” and saying that the party was “afflicted with an ideological sickness.”
Elsewhere in the speech he returned to familiar dark refrains about the state of the country and the capital today, positioning himself as his supporters’ crusader.
Trump told supporters that he will continue pursuing immigration reform with a system that “strengthens our country, upholds our values and protects our way of life.”
As recently as Monday, Trump tweeted that ICE will soon begin removing ” millions ” of people from the United States.
RELATED: The Lineup for the First 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate Has Been Set – See Who’s In
Toward the end of his speech on Tuesday night, he said, “With your help, with your love and your devotion and with your drive, we are going to keep on working, we are going to keep on fighting and we are going to keep on winning, winning, winning.”