At his reelection kickoff rally last night in Orlando, Florida, President Donald Trump criticized the “Fake News” media and the “witch hunt” Mueller investigation. He accused Democrats of wanting “open borders,” and boasted about the crowd size in the arena. He even attacked his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, generating raucous chants of “Lock her up!” along with derisive comments on Twitter (“are we positive Trump knows what year it is?”).
“Trump rallies are in some ways like going to hear the Grateful Dead. You get to hear the songs you want to hear, and he always plays the greatest hits,” commented NPR’s Tamara Keith on the PBS NewsHour.
At one point, the president polled the crowd about a new campaign slogan – Keep America Great? Or stick with Make America Great Again? “How do you give up the greatest theme of all time?” he mused. Left unsaid: How do you campaign on a message of change when you’re now the one running things?
In 2016, the Trump Show – whether you found it appealing or appalling – was a hard thing to look away from. “The 45th president is hero to some and boor to others, but he is for most Americans anything but a bore,” writes John Harris in Politico.
The question is, over the next 503 days, will people keep tuning in for the same thing? Or will the president have to offer his audience something new – to try to grow his support?
Much has been made recently of polls showing Mr. Trump trailing leading Democrats, in some cases by double digits. His national approval ratings have also never cracked 50 percent, a first for an American president.
On the other hand, the president continues to pack stadiums at rallies, and his campaign reported raising nearly $25 million in less than 24 hours – more than any of the Democratic hopefuls raised in the entire first quarter. And, of course, he dominates in media mentions.
There was a telling moment in the president’s interview last week with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos when, in the background, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney coughed. “Let’s do that over, he’s coughing in the middle of my answer,” the former reality TV star suggested. They re-shot the exchange.
Now that the Trump Show’s novelty has worn off, we’ll see if the president’s savvy producer instincts can create a successful season two.
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P.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was our guest at the Monitor Breakfast this morning. You can watch a video of it on CSPAN by clicking here . And look for Washington Bureau Chief Linda Feldmann’s story on our homepage later today.