It’s deja vu all over again for Donald Trump, who visited Orlando this week to launch his presidential re-election campaign using all his familiar tropes and messaging.
Fake news, immigration, MS-13, the wall, border control, Crooked Hillary, socialism, no collusion, no obstruction, low unemployment and poverty, packing the courts, a salute to outgoing press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and two salutes to Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham. Among other themes.
The tropes have been pounded into the electorate over the past thee years and are no longer new or even shocking. Even the new slogan has a whiff of old: Keep America Great. How lazy is that?
But Trump may be thinking the themes worked the first go-around, and so it’s back to the future a second go-around. Why mess with success? And indeed the rallygoers seemed to eat it up, cheering and chanting throughout the 90-minute plus speech. Many waited hours in line, letting neither rain, nor sun, nor Florida heat and humidity get in the way.
He traveled to the Sunshine State, with which he is very much obsessed, to lay claim to it, saying “Florida is my second home and in many ways it’s my first home.”
And Trump likely is correct since he lost his home state of New York by a landslide to Hillary Clinton in 2016, but won Florida by a narrow margin, one that he must hold onto if he is to stay in the White House. As most Americans know, the road to Washington leads through Florida’s 29 electoral college votes.
So he strategically launched his re-election campaign in decidedly blue Orange County, signaling that he will fight for Florida. Ironically, on the day of the re-launch the Orlando Sentinel put out the unwelcome mat, publishing an editorial stating Trump is unfit for office that drew wide attention and commentary, and a Quinnipiac poll showed him trailing a number of Democratic candidates in Florida, including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
But don’t believe the polls. Presidential candidates usually win Florida by the thinnest of margins. Besides, nearly all polls were wrong in 2016.
Trump was careful not to tread on one particular group – Puerto Ricans – whom he left out of his campaign speech, which is odd considering that Florida is the de facto headquarters of the diaspora but not so odd when considering his unpopularity with a majority of Puerto Ricans, especially after the federal government’s dismal response to Hurricane María. Some chains are best left unrattled.
Cuba and Venezuela came up, however. Trump earlier restricted cruise travel to Cuba and is pressuring Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro out of office. But he has not extended temporary protected status or TPS to Venezuelans in the U.S., which would go a long way to helping Venezuelans, except that it interferes with his anti-immigration stance.
All in all, there was nothing new to see or hear.
˜˜María Padilla, Editor