Former President Donald Trump took his first official steps onto the 2024 campaign trail and announced his intentions to become the 47th president of the United States in a speech given at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Nov. 15.
Trump aims to receive the Republican Party’s nomination for the third consecutive election and return to the White House after an unsuccessful re-election attempt against President Joe Biden in 2020.
The beginning of his speech included a synopsis of the state of the country under his leadership versus its condition since he left office. He emphasized foreign policy issues and his relationships with international leaders, claiming American adversaries “respected the United States and quite honestly, they respected me."
He also mentioned inflation, illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, which he said was “perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of our country."
Trump gave an optimistic assessment of the Republican Party’s performance in the 2022 midterms. Although Republicans underperformed expectations, they narrowly retook the House of Representatives and Trump celebrated his endorsement success rate of “232 wins and only 22 losses” before re-endorsing Herschel Walker’s runoff campaign for the Senate.
Eighteen minutes into his speech, Trump made his official announcement and said, “I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States."
Trump encouraged listeners to support his campaign “because the only force strong enough to defeat the massive corruption we are up against is you, the American people."
He reiterated many of the same claims given at the top of his speech. He demanded an end to Biden’s “war on American energy” and urged the country to strengthen supply chains and manufacturing industries.
Trump resurfaced his most famous campaign promise in 2016 to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and promised to continue the project if he was re-elected president. He vowed to reduce crime in urban centers and cited unrest in Minneapolis and Seattle in 2020 as examples of “rotting” American cities. He called for the death penalty against convicted drug dealers and spoke warmly about such punishments in countries such as China and Singapore.
On education, Trump said, “our schools will cease pushing critical race theory” as part of his plan to “defend the family as the center of American life.” He made similar claims about “Biden’s radical left ideology” in relation to the military and excoriated COVID-19 vaccination requirements for service members.
"We will abolish every Biden COVID mandate and rehire every patriot who was fired from our military with an apology and full backpay,” Trump said.
Trump also addressed the urge to deter “the weaponization of the justice system, the FBI and the DOJ” and fight political corruption. He pledged to ban members of Congress from trading stocks, implement Congressional term limits and restore "honesty, confidence and trust in our elections." The final stated policy goal in Trump’s speech was his hope to complete a crewed flight to Mars.
He defined his efforts as “a quest to save our country” and closed his speech with a familiar slogan: “We will make America great again.”
The announcement occurred only days after he inveighed against other Republicans who Trump may suspect are opponents against his efforts to receive the Republican nomination.
Among his targets included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump called him “Ron DeSanctimonious” at a rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 5, and in a post on his social media platform Truth Social, he used the nickname a second time and labeled DeSantis “an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was also targeted. Trump called him “Young Kin” on a separate post and added, “That’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?” in a derogatory remark about the nickname.
Both governors cracked smiles when reporters asked them about Trump’s remarks.
Youngkin said, “I do not call people names,” and DeSantis said, “When you’re leading … you take incoming fire. That’s just the nature of it.”