The first time Donald Trump announced he was running for president, he cruised down an escalator to Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” bragged about his net worth, mused about whether his family actually likes him, and called Mexicans “rapists.” There was no way Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement on Tuesday night was going to beat 2015’s iconic, racist spectacle, but the event failed to meet even significantly lowered expectations. His 65-minute speech in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom was widely derided as “low energy,” and the biggest actual news to come out of the event was his daughter Ivanka Trump’s announcement that she won’t be involved in his political operation going forward. Here are some weak, weird moments that Donald Trump would certainly be mocking if this were any other candidate’s campaign rollout (and he still had a Twitter account).
Multiple Trump family members skipped the event.
In the audience were his sons Barron and Eric (whom Mr. Trump perhaps unwittingly compared to Al Capone and Jesse James in his speech), along with Eric’s wife, Lara. Also his son-in-law Jared Kushner but not Ivanka, who played a starring role during Mr. Trump’s term in office but has announced via an Instagram story that she is bowing out of Season 2. And not Don Jr., though his fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle, was there. As for Tiffany, she was presumably on her honeymoon after her marriage last weekend.
Cable news networks didn’t carry the whole speech.
MSNBC didn’t air the primetime speech at all, while Fox and CNN cut away from the more-than-hour-long address after Trump verbally announced his candidacy. Fox cut away about 15 minutes later than CNN, and switched back to Trump for an additional few minutes after showing commentary from guests.
And the major broadcast networks deemed Trump’s announcement less important than a spinoff of The Bachelor, per the Washington Post:
ABC, NBC and CBS all decided to stick with previously scheduled entertainment programming — reality show “Bachelor in Paradise” on ABC, science fiction drama “La Brea” on NBC and a fictionalized show about the FBI on CBS.
The pump-up music was from Les Mis.
Is “Do You Hear the People Sing?” a banger? In the right context, certainly. And it’s been reported that Trump is such a big Broadway fan that he had a designated “Music Man” in the White House who would soothe him with show tunes when he was blue. But playing the song immediately before Trump’s entrance just raised unsettling questions about whether he thinks he’s Jean Valjean or Javert.
He made a lot of confusing flubs.
Naturally, Trump’s speech was chock-full of false and misleading claims. But there were also plenty of simple mistakes. As The Independent noted, Trump referred to the lower chamber of Congress as “the House of Representators”; he promised to “ensure that Joe Biden does not receive four more years in 2020”; and he bragged that he “went decades with no wars” during his four years as president.
Security wouldn’t let people leave.
He literally had a captive audience.
Former Trump officials bashed him on-air.
When CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney if he thought the announcement was good for the GOP, he said, “No, I don’t, because I think he’s the only Republican who could lose.”
Mulvaney added that if Trump wins the GOP nomination in 2024, the general election will be another referendum on him:
That means the 2024 race is not about Joe Biden or whatever Democrat is on the ticket, not about inflation, not about world events, not about abortion. It will be about Donald Trump, the same thing we saw in 2020. No one voted for Joe Biden. Everybody voted for or against Donald Trump. It was a referendum on him. That’s what we’re hurtling toward in 2024. And I don’t see the outcome being any different two years from now than it was two years ago.
Later on CNN, Sarah Matthews, who served as Trump’s deputy press secretary, described the speech as “uninspiring,” “boring,” and “a rambling mess.”
The New York Post’s coverage was savage.
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