Trump, rallying the GOP base in the northern city of Elko, labeled the Democrat “Sleepy Joe Biden” and “One Percent Joe,” mocking both the size of the crowd at Biden’s event and the former vice president’s past failed presidential campaigns. Biden responded in kind, telling a crowd of several hundred outside the local Culinary Union here that Trump was “shredding” basic decency and making a deliberate effort to divide the country.
Donald Trump vows to "Make America Great Again," and on Tuesday, a good chunk of the Republican electorate implored him to do just that by handing him victories in Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina. If elected, Trump promises, he will restore America to its former glory and make life good again for Americans whose lives, Trump's campaign slogan implies, are no longer particularly good. For Trump's base of white, working-class men without college degrees, this message resonates: This used to be a great country for them, and now they are hurting. But for most Americans, the good old days weren't actually that good, and the "greatness" Trump talks about was delivered on the backs of large swaths of the American public. When Trump promises to "Make America Great Again," we should ask: Great for whom?
These three factions all face one existential issue: What if Trump doesn’t run for re-election, either because he’s impeached, decides he’s had enough, or is so damaged by what Mueller unearths as to be rendered unelectable? Much of the Republican establishment, and even many Trump allies, have been contemplating a Plan B for months. “He could just decide, ‘I’ve made America great again. I’ve kept all my promises. Now I’m gonna play golf,’” said Roger Stone.
Trump's connections to Russia have been widely reported by the press. One of Trump's campaign managers, Paul Manafort, had worked for several years to help pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovich win the Ukrainian presidency. Other Trump associates, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, have been connected to Russian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump. Members of Trump's campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn, were in contact with Russian officials both before and after the November election. On December 29, 2016, Flynn talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions that had been imposed the same day; Trump later fired Flynn for falsely claiming he had not discussed the sanctions.
Trump himself began using the slogan formally on November 7, 2012, the day after Barack Obama won his reelection against Mitt Romney. By his own account, Trump first considered "We Will Make America Great", but did not feel like it had the right "ring" to it. "Make America Great" was his next name, but upon further reflection, he felt that it was a slight to America because it implied that America was never great. After selecting "Make America Great Again", Trump immediately had an attorney register it. (Trump later said that he was unaware of Reagan's use in 1980 until 2015, but noted that "he didn't trademark it".) On November 12 he signed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office requesting exclusive rights to use the slogan for political purposes. It was registered as a service mark on July 14, 2015, after Trump formally began his 2016 presidential campaign and demonstrated that he was using the slogan for the purpose stated on the application.
But the most aggressive of the candidates-in-waiting by far has been Vice President Mike Pence. He has so far survived in Trumpworld by making sure that he is the first among equals in a West Wing full of suck-ups. (At a Cabinet meeting in December 2017, Pence praised Trump 14 times in three minutes.) “Pence wants to inherit the Trump base, so that’s why you see him saying these obsequious things. It’s so pathetic,” a prominent Republican said. In January 2017, Pence started a PAC, America First Policies. “Pence has a better political operation than the White House has. I’ve never seen that before,” Ed Rollins said. Pence has tight relationships with powerful donors, including the Koch brothers and billionaire Todd Ricketts. “Republican members of Congress like Pence. They’d much rather have Pence than Trump,” a top Republican strategist said.
In 1995, Trump founded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (THCR), which assumed ownership of Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, and the Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana. THCR purchased Taj Mahal in 1996 and underwent bankruptcy restructuring in 2004 and 2009, leaving Trump with 10 percent ownership in the Trump Taj Mahal and other Trump casino properties. Trump remained chairman of THCR until 2009.
But a closer look at conservative rhetoric in recent years reveals that “Make America Great Again” was not Trump’s invention. It evolved from a phrase that became central to the Republican establishment during the Obama years: “American exceptionalism.” People often equate the expression with the notion that God made America “a city upon a hill,” in the words of the Puritan colonist John Winthrop. However, as University of California-Berkeley sociology professor Jerome Karabel noted in a 2011 article, this usage only came into vogue after Barack Obama became president. Previously it was mainly used by academics to mean that America is an exception compared with other Western democracies, for better or worse, as illustrated by its top-notch universities or its bare-bones gun control.
On September 26, 2016, Trump and Clinton faced off in their first presidential debate, which was held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and moderated by NBC News anchor Lester Holt. The TV broadcast was the most watched presidential debate in United States history. The second presidential debate was held at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. The beginning of that debate was dominated by references to a recently leaked tape of Trump making sexually explicit comments, which Trump countered by referring to alleged sexual misconduct on the part of Bill Clinton. Prior to the debate, Trump had invited four women who had accused Clinton of impropriety to a press conference. The final presidential debate was held on October 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Trump's refusal to say whether he would accept the result of the election, regardless of the outcome, drew particular attention, with some saying it undermined democracy.
A recent poll put Bernie Sanders’s approval rating at 75 percent, which makes him the most popular politician in America. He’s the standard-bearer for the populist left whose “Medicare for All” bill, while still a liberal pipe dream, now seems as much of a litmus test for ambitious national Democrats as abortion rights. He will also be 79 years old on Election Day 2020.
On January 10, 2017, Politico reported that Trump would be keeping his campaign offices in Trump Tower open in order to lay the groundwork for a re-election campaign. By that time his campaign offices at Trump Tower already included a staff of about ten people led by Republican strategist Michael Glassner. Glassner's deputy is John Pence, nephew of Vice President Mike Pence. The campaign staff was focused on data-building and fundraising for a 2020 reelection campaign.