Four years ago, Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower and delivered a speech that changed American politics forever.
A select few understood that we were dealing with something far different from the bland, meaningless pandering of polished politicians, something with the potential to upend traditional political coalitions and bridge the divides that separated Americans during the Bush-Obama era.
More than any other factor, Trump’s unflinching honesty and willingness to address the problems that establishment politicians refused to acknowledge set him on the path to the White House, and that was apparent from that very first speech.
Very quickly, millions of other Americans began to see the same thing. Trump’s firebrand speeches led to captivating television interviews, then massive rallies, then the Republican nomination, and then a historic general election victory against Hillary Clinton.
In his 2020 campaign launch in Orlando, President Trump proved that he hasn’t lost one iota of that iconoclastic style. It was all there, just as it was four years ago: the brash honesty, the personal connection with voters, the us-against-the-world mentality regarding those who take advantage of the U.S., and the willingness to go where conventional poll-watching politicians wouldn’t dare.
The biggest difference is that while only a small crowd of dedicated supporters, inner-circle staffers, and foresight-endowed journalists were on hand to see Trump make history in his Trump Tower announcement the first time, a veritable army of supporters was on hand to see him do it again.
Diehard MAGA-hatted voters were camping out for tailgates two nights early to make sure they could get into the packed Amway Center in downtown Orlando, which holds 20,000 people. Giant television screens were set up for the thousands who didn’t get in line soon enough to make it through the doors before the huge venue reached capacity. “Fest 45” entertained the massive crowds outside all day long.
This was in Florida, a state Barack Obama won twice, and one that will be absolutely crucial for whichever candidate emerges from what Trump terms the “motley crew” of Democrats looking to challenge him in 2020.
After seeing this speech and the reaction to it among Floridians, I can safely say the Democrats are going to need all the luck they can get, because the record of accomplishments that the president has compiled since taking office has only broadened his appeal.
One of Trump’s greatest assets in the upcoming election campaign is the record economic prosperity he has delivered. Liberals scoffed when he promised to restore full employment and get GDP growth back above 3 percent, yet he managed to achieve both after just two years.
“As long as you keep this team in place, we have a tremendous way to go. Our future has never, ever looked brighter or sharper,” the president declared in Orlando. “The fact is the American dream is back. It’s bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”
Any politician with the stellar economic record Trump has assembled would undoubtedly tout it just as heavily, but what set this speech apart was the same thing that has always set Trump apart from those politicians: the willingness to go where they will not.
“They would strip Americans of their constitutional rights while flooding the country with illegal immigrants in the hopes it will expand their political base and they’ll get votes someplace down the future,” he pointed out with stinging, politically incorrect accuracy.
Trump is also the only American leader to take a firm line with China since the People’s Republic began its rise as a global economic power in the 1980s, and his willingness to take China to task over its outrageously unfair trade abuses has done more to strike fear into the hearts of the Chinese Communist Party leadership than any “tough talk” from establishment politicians ever has.
“The days of stealing American jobs, and American companies, American ideas, and American wealth? Those days are over,” Trump vowed.
The president’s assertive use of tariffs has also gotten Mexico to finally start taking responsibility for its role in enabling the illegal immigration crisis on our southern border, which will go a long way toward making up for congressional Democrats’ obstruction of every possible measure to secure the border.
As Vice President Mike Pence pointed out while introducing the president in Orlando, Mexico has done more to stop illegal immigration in the past two years than the Democrats have done in the last ten years.
Even four whole years after Trump turned the political world on its ear, establishment politicians still don’t have a coherent response to a speech like the Trump campaign kick-off announcement in Florida.
It’s going to be a long and nasty fight all the way to Nov. 3, 2020, but the Orlando rally gave me the same optimistic feeling I had after that 2015 speech at Trump Tower.
We are going to Make America Great Again.
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