Trump, who filed the paperwork for “Make America Great Again” just days after Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election, announced his already-arrived-upon 2020 slogan in a just-published interview with The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty. The reveal comes in the middle of a must-read interview in which Trump seems to decide, on the spot, to nail down the new slogan and share it with the world.
Trump's political party affiliation has changed numerous times over the years. He registered as a Republican in Manhattan in 1987, switched to Independent in 1999, Democrat in 2001, and back to Republican in 2009. He made donations to both the Democratic and the Republican party, party committees, and candidates until 2010 when he stopped donating to Democrats and increased his donations to Republicans considerably.
In Duluth, as he stood in front of a sea of red hats, white faces, and blue signs filling the local hockey arena, the frustration melted away. Trump demanded credit for his nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un. (“We had a great meeting, great chemistry.”) He whined that the media would downplay the crowd size. (“Did you see the thousands and thousands of people outside? That will never be reported by the fake news.”) He griped about not being considered a member of the country’s elite. “I have a much better apartment than they do,” he said to the audience. “I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president and they didn’t.”
Once upon a time, in a distant America, the words “greatest,” “exceptional,” and “indispensable” weren’t even part of the political vocabulary. American presidents didn’t bother to claim any of them for this country, largely because American wealth and global preeminence were so indisputable. We’re talking about the 1950s and early 1960s, the post-World War II and pre-Vietnam “golden” years of American power. Despite a certain hysteria about the supposed dangers of domestic communists, few Americans then doubted the singularly unchallengeable power and greatness of the country. It was such a given, in fact, that it was simply too self-evident for presidents to cite, hail, or praise.
Fact-checking organizations have denounced Trump for making a record number of false statements compared to other candidates. At least four major publications—Politico, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times—have pointed out lies or falsehoods in his campaign statements, with the Los Angeles Times saying that "Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has". NPR said that Trump's campaign statements were often opaque or suggestive.
An August 21 Politico report written by Alex Isenstadt entitled Trump ramping up for 2020 reelection offered new several revelations about the campaign effort. The report discussed plans for an autumn campaign fundraising tour anticipated to rake-in tens of millions of dollars. Pollster John McLaughlin, an advisor for Trump's 2016 campaign, was also appointed to advise Trump's 2020 efforts. The Trump campaign supposedly discussed monitoring individuals listed as being potential 2020 Democratic candidates and Republican challengers, and reportedly devised a plan to have White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon propose the idea of regulating Facebook as a public utility, a move meant to intimidate Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg into dropping rumored plans to run. The report also said that the campaign and Trump's family members had been meeting monthly with the RNC to coordinate their election efforts, especially in North Carolina, which Trump won by less than 4 percentage points in the 2016 election. Finally, it was mentioned that a large part of the campaign's efforts thus far have involved an expansion of its data program being overseen by Brad Parscale.
Trump has been described as a non-interventionist and as an American Nationalist. He has repeatedly stated that he supports an "America First" foreign policy. He supports increasing United States military defense spending, but favors decreasing United States spending on NATO and in the Pacific region. He says America should look inward, stop "nation building", and re-orient its resources toward domestic needs.
But an equally significant problem is that the act itself is a little shopworn. The lines can feel rehearsed. The speech I attended in Duluth shaded more toward a reunion than a rally, heavy on nostalgia for the glory days of past triumphs. The jumbotron played Fox News clips from Election Night 2016 as the anchors called each state for Trump. “That was an amazing evening,” Trump told the crowd a bit wistfully, as if he were reliving prom night. He led the audience in chants of “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!” and “CNN sucks!” It all felt ritualized, scripted—no teleprompter necessary.
Presidential approval ratings have shown Trump to be the least popular president in the history of modern opinion polling as of the start of his second year in office. Early polls have shown Trump trailing by a margin of 10–18 percent against several hypothetical Democratic candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand. In 2018, the presidential reelection effort and the Congressional midterms both drew presidential campaign attention.