Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2020

Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2020
Candidate Donald Trump
President of the United States

Mike Pence
Vice President of the United States
Affiliation Republican Party
Status Announced: February 17, 2017
Headquarters Trump Tower
Manhattan, New York
Key people Michael Glassner (campaign committee manager)[1]
John Pence (campaign committee deputy executive director)[1]
Bradley Crate (campaign treasurer)[2]
Receipts US$~7,000,000
Slogan Keep America Great[3][4]

The Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2020 is an ongoing re-election campaign by President of the United States Donald Trump, who took office on January 20, 2017.


As would be later learned, Trump started spending money on the 2020 race November 24, 2016 (only sixteen days after the end of the 2016 election). The earliest campaign disbursement that his committees reported was spent towards the 2020 presidential primaries was for the purchase of a Delta Air Lines ticket on this date.[5]

On January 10, 2017, Politico reported that Trump would be keeping his campaign offices in Trump Tower open in order to lay the groundwork for a re-election campaign.[6][7] On January 18, Trump revealed in an interview with The Washington Post that he had decided on Keep America Great as his 2020 campaign slogan.[3][8][9] Two days later, on the day of his inauguration, President Trump filed a form with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) declaring that he qualified as a candidate for the 2020 Presidential election.[10][11][12][13]

The 2020 campaign office is based in Trump Tower. As of January 2017, it included a staff of about ten people led by experienced Republican strategist Michael Glassner.[1][14] Glassner's deputy is John Pence, nephew of Vice President Mike Pence.[1] The campaign staff focuses on data-building and fundraising for a 2020 re-election campaign.[14][15] By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[16]

The launch of Trump's reelection campaign came significantly earlier in his presidency than those his predecessors. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan all declared their candidacies for reelection in the third year of their presidencies.[17][18] Trump filed the papers for his reelection campaign approximately 47 months prior the date of the election.[17] In contrast, both Reagan and George H. W. Bush filed approximately twelve months, George W. Bush filed approximately eighteen, and both Clinton and Obama filed approximately nineteen months prior to the date of the election.[17]

While previous presidents had held rallies in the early days of their presidency to garner support for legislation, such rallies differed by those held by Trump in that they were funded by the White House rather than by campaign committees.[18] Trump's February rally in Melbourne was the earliest campaign rally for an incumbent president.[19] Although the early campaign filing is unusual, aspects of a "permanent campaign" would not be entirely unprecedented in American politics, dating at least from the presidency of Bill Clinton under the advice of Sidney Blumenthal.[19]

Trump will be 74 years old by election day 2020.[20][21][22] This would make Trump the oldest-ever presidential nominee on a major party ticket, surpassing Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole, both of whom were aged 73 when they were the Republican Party nominees in 1984 and 1996, respectively.[23][24][25]

If Trump is reelected, it would be the first time in American history that there have been four consecutive presidents who were elected to two terms.[26][27] If Trump completed his second term on January 20, 2025, he would be over 78 years old and would have surpassed Ronald Reagan as the oldest person to serve as president, who was 77 when he left office in 1989.[lower-alpha 1]

Early campaign events

Florida rally

Trump speaking at his first campaign rally in Florida

The first rally paid for by the campaign was held on February 18, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida,[28] and was attended by an estimated 9,000 supporters.[29] This was the earliest an incumbent president had ever held a campaign rally.[19]

Speaking at the rally, Trump defended his actions and criticized the media.[19] As he referred to "what's happening last night in Sweden" while criticizing the asylum policies of several European countries,[30] he was lambasted by the press and the Swedish government for alluding to a non-existent terror incident there.[31][32] Reacting to the backlash, Trump later stated that he was referring to a Fox News program aired the previous day,[33] including an interview with Ami Horowitz on Tucker Carlson Tonight.[34] Several days after Trump's explanatory tweet, the website of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs published a page disputing claims Horowitz made in that interview, as well as related claims about migration and crime in Sweden.[32]

March 2017: Second and third rallies

The campaign's second rally was held a month later in Nashville on March 15, and coincided with the 250th birthday of Andrew Jackson. Prior to the rally, Trump paid tribute to Jackson and laid a wreath at his tomb.[35][36][37][38][39] Trump was the first sitting-President to visit Jackson's tomb since Ronald Reagan,[36][39] who had done so on March 15, 1982[37][38] when he participated in commemorating Jackson's 215th birthday before addressing a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly.[36] Talking points included repealing the Affordable Care Act and defending his revised travel ban, hours before it was put on hold by Derrick Watson, a federal judge in Hawaii.[40]

A third rally was held by the campaign in Louisville on March 20. At the rally, Trump made no reference to James Comey's testimony before Congress earlier that day, where Comey denied having any proof backing up Trump's wiretapping allegations.[41][42]

Trump laying a wreath at the tomb of Andrew Jackson at The Hermitage prior to his Nashville rally 
Trump speaking at his rally in Nashville March 15, 2017 
Rally in Louisville March 20, 2017 

Affiliated rallies

Trump waves to supporters in West Palm Beach on March 4

For reasons that remained unclear, a number of other events were held in the first year of the Trump presidency.[18]

On March 4, there were a series of rallies held by allies of the campaign in some 50 cities (including Nashville, Phoenix, Boston, Denver, Miami, St. Paul, and Berkley).[43] In several cities, they were met by counter-demonstrations[44] where some protesters were arrested.[45][46]

Other events were held around the country throughout March, some of which resulted in violence.[47]

April 2017

By mid-April the Trump campaign had a staff of around twenty employees.[48]

At an April 28 event for the National Rifle Association (NRA), Trump commented on the 2020 race, with one controversial statement derogatorily referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren, a speculated potential candidate for the Democratic nomination, by the Native American epithet "Pocahontas." He had previously used this as a derisive nickname for Warren during his 2016 campaign. Trump said, "I have a feeling that in the next election you’re going to be swamped with candidates, but you're not going to be wasting your time. You’ll have plenty of those Democrats coming over, and you’re going to say, 'No, sir—no, thank you. No, ma'am.' Perhaps 'ma'am.' It may be Pocahontas, remember that. And she is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you. But you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you."[49][50][51]

Trump held a rally on April 29 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. The rally coincided with the hundredth day of Trump's presidency.[52][53] It also took place the same night as the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which Trump did not attend (marking the first time that a president skipped the dinner since Ronald Reagan was recovering from a gunshot injury in 1981).[53][54] Trump made several references to the Correspondents' Dinner, which was being held at the same time as the rally.[55] He also remarked, "Let's rate the media's 100 days ... because as you know, they are a disgrace."[55]

In addition to Trump, Vice President Pence also spoke at the April 29 rally. Pence declared, "Our new president is doing exactly what he said he would do." Pence also boasted that the president had signed more executive orders than any president in 50 years.[55] Trump had formerly criticized his predecessor Barack Obama's use of executive orders.[56]

Upon seeing a protester at the rally Trump exclaimed, "Get him out of here." After this, members of the Trump-supporting group Bikers for Trump accosted and jostled several individuals at the rally. Politico speculated that this instance might play against Trump in ongoing litigation accusing him of inciting violence at his 2016 campaign rallies.[57]

In addition to holding a rally, Trump wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post boasting of the accomplishments of his first hundred days.[58][59][13]

May 2017

First campaign ad: "First 100 Days"

On May 1 the campaign announced that it was spending $1.5 million on national advertisements. According to a campaign statement, these ads would tout the accomplishments of first hundred days as demonstrating his, “clear vision, resolute leadership, and an uncompromising dedication to the American people.”[58][60][61] The campaign also said that the ad buy included digital targeted advertisements meant to appeal to voters that supported specific agenda items of Trumps presidency.[60] This ad buy comes 1,282 days (approximately 42 months) before election day 2020,[61][13][62] and before any other major candidates have officially declared their candidacy for the nominations of either party.[62]

The first television advertisement (which hit the airwaves the same day that the ad buy was announced)[61] was titled "First 100 Days".[60] The ad originally contained a clip of Trump shaking hands with H. R. McMaster. However, it was pointed out that it was a violation of military policy for McMaster, an active military personal, to engage in, "partisan political activity". McMaster was also in uniform in the clip, even though military members are strictly prohibited from participating in any political advocacy whilst in-uniform.[61][63] Subsequent airings of the advertisement substituted this clip.[60][61][63]

The ad claims that the "fake news" media refused to report the successes of the administration.[60][62][64][65] Because of this, CNN decided to stop running the ad, stating on May 2, "CNN requested that the advertiser remove the false graphic that says the mainstream media is ‘fake news'. The mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false. Per our policy, it will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted. Those are the facts.”[66][67][68] Campaign manager Michael Glasssner commented, "It is absolutely shameful to see the media blocking the positive message that President Trump is trying to share with the country. It’s clear that CNN is trying to silence our voice and censor our free speech because it doesn’t fit their narrative."[66][67][68]

It was pointed-out by publications such as Forbes that the ad itself cites mainstream media sources (including CNBC, The Boston Globe and The New York Times) to support its claims.[64]

ABC, CBS, and NBC later joined CNN in refusing to play the ad. Lara Trump, a consultant to the campaign and the daughter-in-law of the president, criticized this saying, "Apparently, the mainstream media are champions of the First Amendment only when it serves their own political views. Faced with an ad that doesn't fit their biased narrative, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC have now all chosen to block our ad. This is an unprecedented act of censorship in America that should concern every freedom-loving citizen." [65]

Campaign finances

By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[16]

By the end of the first quarter of 2017, the campaign's three committees ("Donald J. Trump for President", "Trump Victory", and "Trump Make America Great Again Committee") had reported raising a combined $13.2 million, the majority of which had come from small donors.[48] On April 15, The Wall Street Journal determined that the Trump campaign had reported spending more than $500,000 in payments to companies owned by Trump, amounting to 6% of the 6.5 million that the campaign reported spending in the first quarter of 2017.[69]

Additionally, the campaign spent more than $4 million on memorabilia (such as hats) in the first quarter of 2017.[4]

Trump's campaign and the RNC ultimately raised a combined $55 million in the first quarter of 2017. According to the National Review's Kelly Jane Torrance, Barack Obama and the DNC raised roughly $16 million in the same period of his presidency.[4]

Super-PACS supporting Trump

On May 5, 2017 The Center for Public Integrity published an analysis of federal campaign spending records which revealed that two Super PACs supporting Trump, Great America PAC and Committee to Defend the President, had already spent $1.32 million on the 2020 election campaign.[2] Ted Harvey serves as the chairman of the Committee to Defend the President and Eric L. Beach serves as co-chairman of Great America PAC.[2] Both PACS have previously been accused by the FEC of poorly maintaining financial records, and have been threatened with penalties.[2]

The Center for Public Intergrity also found that several other pro-trump PACS had already been founded in 2017, but most of them had been largely inactive up to that point. One such PAC was 'America First Action', which was founded by Charles Gantt. Gantt is the CEO of Red Curve Solutions, a political consulting firm of which Trump campaign treasurer Bradley Crate is the senior vice president.[2]


See also


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