Donald Trump, who has mounted relentless attacks on the integrity of U.S. voting since his 2020 election defeat, on Tuesday launched a bid to regain the presidency in 2024, aiming to pre-empt potential Republican rivals.
Seeking a potential rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden, Trump made his announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida a week after midterm elections in which Republicans failed to win as many seats in Congress as they had hoped.
In a speech lasting little more than an hour, Trump spoke to hundreds of supporters in a ballroom decorated with chandeliers and lined with American flags.
“In order to make America great again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said to the phone-waving crowd, which included family members, donors and former staffers.
Trump steered clear of the name-calling that has marked other public appearances, opting instead for a critique of Biden’s presidency and a review of what Trump said were the policy achievements of his own time in office.
“Two years ago we were a great nation and soon we will be a great nation again,” he said.
Trump laid out familiar dark themes from his playbook, denouncing migrants – “We’re being poisoned” – and portraying American cities as crime-ridden “cesspools of blood.”
He said he would push for the death penalty for drug dealers and rehire members of the military who had been dismissed for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Although he assailed the U.S. election process, Trump did not use his speech to revive his false claims of massive voter fraud in 2020 and did not mention the violent attempt by his supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.
On a trip to Indonesia, Biden said “not really” when asked if he had a reaction to Trump’s announcement. On Twitter, he posted a video criticizing Trump’s record in office.