Donald Trump stood before a crowd of supporters at his Mar-a-Lago retreat on Tuesday night where he outlined a series of controversial policy goals for his newly-announced 2024 presidential campaign.
Speaking for a little more than an hour in the ballroom of his Florida mansion, Trump touched on hot-button social issues like drug crime, COVID-19 mandates and transgender participation in school sports – but was notably silent on abortion, an issue that’s proved difficult for Republicans to navigate in the midterm elections.
Appearing to take a lesson from the recent races that saw his top acolytes rejected in favor of more moderate opponents, the former president held back from wading too far into his claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
However, he did complain about the length of time it’s taking to count all the ballots in some states and promised that ‘voting will be much different’ next time around.
‘We will do whatever it takes to bring back honesty, confidence and trust in our elections. To eliminate cheating, I will immediately demand voter ID, same-day voting, and only paper ballots,’ Trump said.
Trotting out a story he’s told a numerous past rallies, Trump also pledged to levy the death penalty against seemingly all people charged for dealing drugs, and compared it to authoritarian China’s policies for cracking down on crime.
‘In China, when I was with President Xi, I said “President, do you have a drug problem?”‘…He said, “No. We don’t have a drug problem.” He said quick trial,’ Trump said. ‘That’s where do you have an immediate trial and by the end of the day you’re executing.’
He said China ‘make the fentanyl that comes into our country.’
‘Every drug dealer during his or her life, on average, will kill 500 people with the drugs they sell, not to mention the destruction of families,’ Trump said. ‘We’re going to be asking everyone who sells drugs, gets caught selling drugs, to receive the death penalty for their pain.’
Donald Trump has revealed he is running for president for the third time in 2024. The former president defied Republican critics and those who blamed him for the GOP’s disappointing midterms to go full steam on stating his intent to be back in the Oval Office
It’s not clear if Trump can unilaterally act to change the criminal code without Congress’ approval.
He also vowed to reinstate the thousands of service members who have been forced out of duty for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine and suggested they would be paid for time lost.
‘We will abolish every Biden COVID mandate and rehire every patriot who was fired from the military,’ Trump said. ‘With an apology and full back pay – and they’ll get it.’
Wading into the culture wars as well, Trump pledged to ban transgender females from participating in women’s sports – similar to legislation passed by red states for school sports teams over the last two years.
Leaning heavily on the education issue, he also pledged to ban critical race theory from being taught in schools.
‘When I’m in the White House, our schools will cease pushing the critical race theory as they were,’ Trump said. ‘I will be the president that fixes education in America… we will not let men, for example, participate in women’s sports.’
He threatened to withhold federal funding from any schools that run afoul of his proposed mandates.
Trump also showed interest in reinvigorating the space race but is shooting past the moon – straight to the red planet.
His audience was ecstatic after Trump finally announced his intent to run in 2024
‘We will plant our beautiful American flag very soon on the surface of Mars,’ he promised.
Trump officially announced he is running for president for the third time in 2024 in a speech attacking President Biden, the ‘radical left’ Democrats and their record on the economy and the world stage in the two years since he left office.
The former president ignored Republican critics and those who blamed him for the GOP’s disappointing midterms to go full steam on stating his intent to be back in the Oval Office to ‘drain the swamp’ with the country ‘being destroyed before our very lives’.
‘In order to make America great and glorious again, I am today announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,’ he confirmed to huge cheers before laying into the FBI raid, the ‘fake’ dossier’, the ‘deep state’ and lobbyists.
Despite not formally making his announcement until later in the speech, Trump made his intentions clear from the outset by telling his audience: ‘America’s comeback starts right now.’
‘Three years ago when I left office, the United States stood ready for its golden age. Our nation was at the pinnacle of power, prosperity and prestige – towering above all rivals vanquishing all enemies and striding into the future confident, resourceful,’ Trump said.
He vowed to make his run about working people, restoring American energy independence, reforming elections to make sure there are ‘only paper ballots’ and restoring an ‘agenda of greatness’ with top Republicans and the media saying he should stay out of the race.
‘This will not be my campaign. This will be our campaign all together. Because the only force strong enough to defeat the massive corruption we are up against is you, the American people,’ he said while celebrating the last six years of the MAGA movement, his midterm endorsements and his battle against Washington.
After months of speculation and with mounting legal battles, he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission just moments before he began his speech to fired-up supporters at Mar-a-Lago where he said America ‘can’t take’ four more years of Biden.
‘The decline of America is being forced upon us by Biden and the radical left lunatics running our government right into the ground,’ Trump said.
In his stately ballroom with opulent gold trimmings and chandeliers, he was introduced as the ‘next president’ to chants of ‘USA’.
Speaking for just over an hour, Trump made defiant and sometimes somber remarks about the state of the country, hours after Mitch McConnell said independent voters had the ‘impression of many of the people in our party and leadership roles is that they are involved in chaos’.
The former president went on to attack Biden for record inflation, ‘falling asleep at global conferences’ and making the U.S. ‘detestable’ with the rest of the world. He celebrated Nancy Pelosi getting ‘fired’ with Republicans on the cusp of taking the House majority.
But taking a page out of his White House successor’s 2020 playbook, Trump vowed to ‘unify people’ and claimed he did so during his last term.
‘It happened in the previous administration,’ Trump said. ‘And what was bringing them together was success.’
The crowd roared when he and Melania Trump arrived to the tune of his signature theme, Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA.
Before that, applause rang out for the arrival of his family members – Eric Trump, his wife Lara, Trump’s youngest child Barron, 16, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Kushner, who served as a White House advisor during Trump’s last term, raised eyebrows by arriving without his wife Ivanka – who released a statement after the speech that she loved her father but was ‘choosing to prioritize my young children and the private life we are creating as a family’ and would stay ‘out of the political arena.’
Tiffany Trump, who just got married at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday, was also not present. Nor was Donald Trump Jr., who was on a hunting trip and could not catch a flight in time to attend the event due to bad weather, according to RealClearPolitics.
He filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission just moments before he began his speech to supporters at Mar-a-Lago
Trump said Afghanistan was the most ’embarrassing moment in the history of our country’ and tore into the Biden administration border policies that have led to an ‘invasion’ and fentanyl ‘pouring’ into our country.
‘We are here tonight to declare that it does not have to be this way – it does not have to be this way – two years ago we were a great nation and soon we will be a great nation again,’ he added.
‘The only force strong enough to defeat the massive corruption we are up against it’s you, the American people’, he went on. ‘It’s not about politics, it’s about love for this great nation’.
In a line he has used before, he told the audience: ‘I didn’t need this. I had an easy life’.
‘This is something I didn’t need, and a lot of you people don’t need either, but we have to take care of our country. We love our country, we need to save our country,’ the former president said.
Trump also threw his weight behind Herschel Walker ahead of his Georgia run-off on December 6 against Raphael Warnock for the final Senate seat up for grabs.
‘We must all work very hard for a gentleman and a great person named Herschel Walker, he will be a great United States senator,’ the ex-president said. ‘Get out and vote for Herschel and he deserves it. He was an incredible athlete, he’ll be an even better senator.’
But he’ll be hitting the campaign trail without Ivanka as a surrogate, despite her being one of the more popular members of his last administration.
‘I love my father very much. This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children and the private life we are creating as a family. I do not plan to be involved in politics,’ she wrote in a statement after the speech.
‘While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside of the political arena. I am grateful to have had the honor of serving the American people and I will always be proud of many of our Administration’s accomplishments.’
South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham was among the first of Trump’s supporters to laud the announcement.
‘If President Trump continues this tone and delivers this message on a consistent basis, he will be hard to beat. His speech tonight, contrasting his policies and results against the Biden Administration, charts a winning path for him in the primaries and general election,’ Graham wrote on Twitter.
Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, who served as the White House physician for multiple presidents including Trump, tweeted: ‘Trump just announced he’s running for President in 2024. THIS IS HISTORIC.’
Trump’s announcement comes the same day as a new poll showed the ex-president with a commanding lead in a field of potential 2024 candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has yet to rule out his own White House campaign against Trump.
Hours before the former president took the stage, advisers and allies like Jason Miller, Boris Epshteyn and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell milled about the room.
Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich was also present.
Jason Miller told reporters that Trump would be laying out ‘all the campaign mechanics’ on Tuesday night.