A stage with 20 American flags is set up under the chandeliers. Some of the guests are wearing red caps, “Make America great again” can be read on them – Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign slogan. There are also many other things that today are reminiscent of the past.
Six years after his election victory and two years after a violent election defeat, Trump, 76, invited handpicked guests to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Tuesday evening. A "very big announcement," as Trump previously said.
"UNITED STATES! USA!” chanted the crowd as Trump entered the hall. He begins his hour-long speech with the words: "America's comeback begins now." Trump paints a glorious picture of his own reign. "In those years, things were better for everyone than ever before," he says of a period of recession and unemployment, which was severe at times.
As usual, Trump paints Joe Biden's reign in all the darker colors: "Now we are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation.” The past two years have been “a time of pain, deprivation, fear and despair”. "Our country is a laughing stock," he says. It's largely the standard campaign speech that Trump has delivered on numerous occasions before the midterm elections, which have disappointed Republicans.
While his hated successor Biden is gathering Western leaders at the G-20 summit in Bali to discuss the missile impact in Poland, Trump also blames Biden for this event. "Today a missile was sent to Poland, probably by Russia, 50 miles into Poland," he says. Trump puts this event in the context of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden "is taking us to the brink of nuclear war," says Trump - and leaves Putin unmentioned.
After about 20 minutes, he speaks the sentences that made him invited today. "I'm announcing my candidacy for the presidency of the United States tonight," Trump says, promising: "We will put America first again."
But his appearance – he reads most of the speech from the teleprompter – seems far less powerful than usual today. There were no previous speakers. It was previously speculated that daughter Ivanka would perform with him. Nothing like that. Shouldn't Trump's midterm elections, which were disappointing for Republicans, have spoiled the mood?
Trump responds and tries to insult the people: "The citizens of our country have not yet recognized the full extent and severity of the pain that our country is going through." Only now is the extent of the suffering becoming apparent. "They don't quite feel it yet, but they will feel it very soon," he says of his compatriots. By 2024 everything will – “unfortunately” – be much worse. And so the “2024 election will be completely different”.
Even Fox News stops broadcasting Trump's speech live after about 45 minutes. This is happening just as Trump is mocking Angela Merkel. "Do you remember Angela?" he asks his audience and gives the answer himself: "No one remembers her anymore." Trump claims that he once reproached Merkel: "You get 78 percent of your energy from Russia." That's it "not good for Germany". Germany has “shut down all of its coal-fired power plants and nuclear power plants,” he lets his fans know: “And now they are building coal-fired power plants.” Trump has never been accused of a lack of creativity – in fact, Germany wants to phase out coal-fired power by 2038 at the latest.
"We will win," predicts Trump for 2024. Time flies so quickly. Trump will be 78 years old by this election. At the end of a second term, he would be 82 years old. But first he has to win the primary in his own party. Exit? Open. Trump has already submitted the relevant documents for a candidacy to the Federal Election Commission.
The name of the campaign: "DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT 2024". The campaign's headquarters: a PO Box in Arlington, Virginia. The email address: TRUMP@REDCURVE.COM
Trump has suffered significant setbacks in recent days after various candidates he supported failed in the midterm elections in contested states. The conservative Wall Street Journal spoke out against Trump's candidacy. The powerful media entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch is turning his back on Trump. Several Republicans called on the ex-president – directly or indirectly – not to run for office.
Trump's former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is considering running himself, said: "We need more seriousness. We need less noise.” What is needed are leaders who “look ahead and don't look in the rear-view mirror and demand a role as a victim”. This is a broadside against Trump.
Even among consultants, there is resentment about the timing of the statement. A runoff election for the Senate in Georgia is scheduled for December 6th. A fixation on Trump could harm the candidate he supports, ex-sportsman Herschel Walker.
Even a Trump follower like Senator Chuck Grassley appealed to him: "Stop talking about 2020." Trump's unfounded complaint about a presidential election allegedly "stolen" from him is the central theme of his speeches. "I ran twice, I won twice," Trump continues to claim. However, he has not yet presented a political program, not even on Tuesday. Content was always less important to Trump than the cult surrounding him.
But the tide is turning among the Republicans, who have nurtured the Trump cult for years. The long, extremely loyal ex-Vice President Mike Pence, for example, distanced himself from Trump. In an interview Tuesday, Pence dodged questions about Trump's character. Pence is said to have ambitions for the White House himself. He indicated that he will not support Trump in the primaries. "I think we'll have a better choice," Pence said.
Republicans are frustrated by the disappointing outcome of last week's midterm elections. "Independent voters are not voting for our candidates," said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shortly before Trump was to announce his third presidential candidacy: "That's a problem." DeSantis is considered the most promising candidate next to Trump.
There have been "many, many disappointments," DeSantis said, without naming names. In the past two weeks, Trump has repeatedly attacked DeSantis, calling him just an "average" governor and nicknamed him: "Ron hypocritical". DeSantis has so far refrained from responding to such attacks.