ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - All eyes were on Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, as President Donald Trump spoke before thousands at the Amway Center to kick off his 2020 re-election bid. It appeared to be a grievance-filled rally that focused more on settling scores than on laying out his agenda for a second term.
Trump warmed up the crowd with some of his usual attacks on the news media, political opponents and Washington insiders. He complained that he had been "under assault from the very first day" of his presidency by a "fake news media" and "illegal witch hunt" that had tried to keep him and his supporters down.
He also painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, telling the crowd that Democrats "want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it." The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump's 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his 2016 run.
Still, thousands of his adoring fans roared when he said, “I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term for president of the United States.”
Trump said the U.S. is taking in billions of dollars in tariffs and that companies are leaving China as a result of the 25 percent tariffs he has imposed on $250 billion in Chinese imports. Trump is preparing to target $300 billion in Chinese imports that he hasn't already hit with tariffs. Trump said the U.S. helped rebuild China, and "they took us for suckers, and that includes Obama and Biden."
He told supporters he's fighting for them, adding, "I have news for Democrats who want to return us to the bitter failures and betrayals of the past: We are not going back."
Earlier, he said he has taken on the "political machine" during his presidency and "that is why the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently." Despite that, Trump claimed that he has accomplished more than any other president during his first 2 1/2 years in office.
He decried "illegal mass migration" as he tried to fire up supporters, saying millions of low-wage workers who come to the U.S. illegally compete for wages and opportunities against the most vulnerable Americans.
Trump made border security a focus of his first presidential run and returned to the topic frequently on Tuesday in Florida. He claimed that schoolchildren across the country are being threatened by MS-13 gang members and blames "Democratic policies." He said if Democratic officials "had to send their children to those overcrowded, overburdened schools, they would not tolerate it for one minute."
At one point, Trump complained about special counsel Robert Muller's investigation into Russian meddling in 2016, stating, "We went through the greatest witch hunt in political history." He proclaimed that his opponents have been given a "free pass" and is telling supporters: "They are really going after you. That's what this is all about."
Looking ahead, Trump is promising to eradicate AIDS in America and to come up with cures to many diseases, "including cancer and others," during his second term. It came shortly after Trump's eldest son mocked former Vice President Joe Biden for laying out the same goal on cancer. Donald Trump Jr. said earlier Tuesday before his father spoke: "Why the hell didn't you do that over the last 50 years, Joe?"
Former President Barack Obama had tasked Biden with developing a "moonshot" to accelerate the fight against cancer. The effort resulted in Congress passing a bill to speed the development of cures in the final weeks of Obama's presidency. Biden's son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died from brain cancer in 2015.
Hundreds of people had been waiting in line for the rally since 2 a.m. on Monday -- more than 40 hours before start. Campers had tents, food, blankets and a lot of enthusiasm.
"It’s one of the most important elections we have in history," said Gary Best, who was the first in line around 2:00 a.m. Monday morning.
The Amway Center only has room for about 20,000 people and the Trump administration has said that having a ticket does not guarantee admission. For people who will not be able to get inside, they will be allowed to go into 45 Fest, an outdoor area to watch the president’s speech. The big event is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m.
Protesters of the event were located throughout downtown Orlando. The 'Win With Love' protest took place at Stonewall Bar, down the street from the Amway Center. Organizers were encouraging a no-contact policy with the Trump crowd and officials are encouraging all to remain peaceful. The infamous "Baby Trump'" balloon also made an appearance.
Several road closures were announced in the downtown Orlando area, ahead of the rally. Church Street, South Street, Pine Street, Hughey Avenue, and Division Avenue are closed. If you are traveling in downtown Orlando, be aware that the following road closures:
- South Division Avenue from W. Anderson St. to W. Central Blvd.
- South Hughey Avenue from W. Central Blvd. to W. South Street
- West Church Street from S. Hughey Ave. to S. Garland Ave.
- West Pine Street from S. Garland Ave. to S. Hughey Ave.
- West South Street from S. Hughey Ave. to S. Division Ave.
Officials are encouraging those who want to attend the rally or protests take the SunRail or public transportation, as parking will be extremely limited. The SunRail will offer additional evening hours of service on Tuesday night to accommodate attendees.