In battleground state of Florida, Trump
to launch re-election campaign
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[June 18, 2019]
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump on Tuesday formally launches what may be an uphill battle to
persuade voters to give him four more years in office, as he bets a
strong U.S. economy will outweigh voter concerns about his unorthodox
style and polarizing policies.
At an evening rally in Orlando, Florida, Trump, who has long made it
known he is running for re-election, will begin making his case with
gusto for a second term.
The Trump of 2020 will most certainly bear a strong resemblance to the
Trump of 2016 - brash and eager to bash his Democratic opponents and
promote tough policies on trade and immigration.
"We're doing the best job that anybody's done probably as a first-term
president. I think I've done more than any other first-term president
ever," Trump told ABC News.
Two-and-a-half years into his tenure, Trump sees plenty of positive
factors, led by a growing economy with low unemployment.
"If the economy stays strong, he is very likely to get re-elected," said
Trump confidant Newt Gingrich, a former Republican speaker of the U.S.
House of Representatives.
But the aftermath of a probe into Russian interference in the 2016
election, coupled with a presidential style marked by name-calling and
eye-popping tweets, has undermined some Americans' confidence in Trump
ahead of the November 2020 election.
He has also stirred division with his hardline policies on immigration
and unsettled business and farm groups with his use of tariffs in trade
disputes with China and some allies.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll on June 11 gave Trump a 40% job approval rating,
compared with 57% who disapproved. Other opinion polls have shown him
running consistently behind his main Democratic challengers, such as
former Vice President Joe Biden, in key battleground states.
Republican strategists say the fundamentals favor Trump as he heads into
his election but that he faces challenges given his bare-knuckled
approach, which he refuses to temper.
"His support with his base is as strong as it’s ever been for any
Republican incumbent president. The challenge is adding to that and
building the coalition he needs for re-election," said Republican
strategist Ryan Williams, a former adviser to 2012 Republican nominee
Starting his 2020 push in Florida, which the former New York businessman
considers his second home, shows how important the state is to Trump's
re-election hopes. The Republican president would like to recreate the
state-by-state electoral map he assembled to defeat Democrat Hillary
Clinton in 2016.
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President Donald Trump looks at supporters before boarding Air Force
One after addressing a Trump 2020 re-election campaign rally in
Montoursville, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos
That election win included victories in Florida, Pennsylvania,
Michigan and Wisconsin, and he thus far faces challenges in all
those states, along with North Carolina.
Democrats vow to win back industrial states like Pennsylvania and
Michigan that flipped to Trump in 2016 after decades of voting
Democratic in presidential elections, and they believe his behavior
and policies will generate strong turnout among Americans eager to
turn him out of office.
“He carried some states last time that put him over the top that he
needs to go button down this time - and he needs to keep a close eye
on Florida and North Carolina," said Republican strategist Scott
Reed. "But he’s in a position of strength because he has the
presidential bully pulpit," Trump campaign advisers wave off the
polls at this stage, saying Trump had trailed in most polls in 2016
and still won.
The advisers believe Trump's chances will improve once Democrats go
through their hard-fought nominating process and produce a nominee
for him to face off against.
Nobody is expecting Trump to change his behavior. Aides who had
urged him early in his White House tenure to tone down his style are
"The answer is not 'you must be more presidential,'" said a Trump
confidant. "Some things are never going to happen."Some Trump
advisers had urged the president to begin his campaign launch in New
York with a nostalgic recreation of the scene from June 2015 when
Trump and his wife, Melania, rode down an escalator at Trump Tower
for his announcement speech.
On his flight to Tokyo on May 24, Trump turned down the idea, based
on input from the first lady, who thought he should do something new
and was adamantly against the escalator ride, said a person with
direct knowledge of the conversation.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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