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Why Donald Trump's 2020 presidential campaign launch was like a time warp

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

It was less a rally to kick-start his re-election campaign, and more a time warp.

Within minutes of starting his speech the US President was attacking the media for fake news, he was assailing Hillary Clinton for wiping her emails, he was promising to build a wall along America’s southern border.

Heard any of that before?

And, oh yes, he was vowing to drain the swamp.

Where have I spent the last three years?

This was the same speech I heard in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin throughout the summer and autumn of 2016.

So this much we know: President Trump has a single playbook and it will be deployed again and again over the next 500 days.

He will accuse the Democrats of seeking to destroy America by adopting “radical socialism.”

He will exaggerate to an almost comical extent his aims for a second term - on Tuesday night he suggested that under his watch America would soon cure cancer and start a human colony on Mars.

The problem for the President is that his re-election bid, formally launched last night in front of 20,000 ecstatic supporters, is already in trouble.

Early polling indicates that he would lose in a match-up against any of the top Democratic contenders.

So Trump needs to highlight the successful economy and taunt his opponents into making mistakes.

The Trump baby blimp made an appearance outside the rally. Credit: AP

Outside the arena last night, I had a glimpse of how toxic and febrile the 2020 campaign is certain to be.

Pro and anti-Trump supporters shouted abuse at each other, separated by a thin line of police officers.

Both sides accused the other of being un-American and of endangering the very soul of the nation.

President Trump can galvanize and mobilise supporters better than any politician that I have ever witnessed.

Melania Trump appeared alongside her husband. Credit: AP

His core loyalists will crawl over broken glass for him. But it won’t be enough in 2020.

He has to reach out and build a coalition that wins him the battleground states.

And beyond the hall last night there is a deep frustration with the constant chaos of this presidency.

The Orlando Sentinel, the local newspaper here, captured that weary mood yesterday with a front page editorial endorsement.

The headline simply read: “Our endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump.”