Trump’s 2020 Re-Election Rally Signals 2016 Strategy May Be Used Again

Donald Trump repeatedly railed against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as a friendly Florida crowd cheered and jeered. Only it wasn’t 2016 — it was just six days ago.

The president took a crowd of supporters in Orlando on a journey through time last Tuesday as he formally announced his re-election bid. He dropped his now-familiar attack lines that elicited chants of “Lock her up” for Clinton and boos for Obama.

Curiously, he opted against aiming rhetorical jabs at most of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls. It was a departure from almost every other rally he has held since becoming president — including his homestretch barnstorming for Republican Senate nominees before last year’s midterms.

The president flashed a 2020 approach that closely resembles the one he employed three years ago from places like Madison, Alabama; Dimondale, Michigan; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and Manheim, Pennsylvania. Only now, Obama appears to be enjoying his post-presidency and Clinton won’t be on the ballot.

Trump and his campaign are already trying to rebuild the 2016 Electoral College map that improbably put him in the White House in the first place. Republican and Democratic strategists call that a long shot, and it begs the question: Can the same message that fueled a dark horse campaign work for an incumbent four years later?

Another hurdle is a disapproval rating that consistently hovers around 50 percent, said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist.

“No modern president who has avoided recession has not been re-elected,” he said. “So if he avoids that, the disapproval number is probably what worries them the most.”

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call

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Analysis & Political Strategy