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Trump To Kick Off 2020 Presidential Campaign In Florida


Today President Trump says he's officially entering the 2020 presidential campaign. He's holding a big rally in Orlando, Fla., to kick things off. NPR's political correspondent Scott Detrow is covering the 2020 election for us.

Hey, Scott.


KING: All right, so this is being called the official kickoff. But hasn't the president been campaigning the whole time?

DETROW: He has, and he actually fired - filed, rather, that paperwork for his 2020 campaign the day he was inaugurated president in 2017. He has never really stopped campaigning. He has been raising a ton of money, holding rallies all over the country, consistently throughout his presidency. But this is the symbolic start of the campaign, just in the way that the 23 Democrats running for president have had their rollouts.

And President Trump is holding his in a very important state - Florida, a critical state that put him in the White House. Nearly every presidential election for a generation there has been incredibly close. So this is going to be a big state. And Republicans feel pretty confident there, especially since they won two big statewide races there last year when Democrats did so well across the whole country.

KING: In his first campaign, President Trump was the outsider. He was the guy who's not from the D.C. swamp; that was his message. Now he cannot make that argument so much. So what do you think the message of his reelection campaign is going to be?

DETROW: Well, of course, the real message will be whatever the president tweets each day.

KING: Yeah (laughter).

DETROW: That's been the case all along for him. But the campaign is organized around two big themes. First is the economic track record. The fact is, when a president is running for reelection and the economy is doing well, they usually have a pretty good chance at getting reelected. So expect the president and his allies to talk a lot about the economic indicators - consumer confidence, the low unemployment rate, the high stock market, things like that.

You can also expect a lot of trying to tear down the eventual Democratic nominee. We've seen President Trump go after former Vice President Joe Biden a lot already. There's a real strategy here to just focus on President Trump's base, but also really try to paint the eventual Democratic opponent as too extreme, as untenable for a moderate or an independent to vote for, even if that moderate or independent doesn't especially love the Trump presidency so far.

KING: So how is this different? Or how different is this in 2020, from the run prior to 2016?

DETROW: So Tamara Keith, who's been covering President Trump for NPR, likes to say that the 2016 Trump campaign was trying to blow up the Death Star, really just President Trump and his friends and allies flying around on a plane, and the 2020 reelection effort is more like building a Death Star, right?

I mean, the top-line messaging and who the president is politically isn't going to change. But his reelection campaign is doing stuff that, in 2016, they didn't really focus on or care about until the final months of the race, and that is building a massive staff infrastructure, doing a lot of data analysis, targeted voter - voting, looking for specific voters, raising money and just putting a big plan in place. It was a lot more seat-of-the-pants last time around; this time there is a very specific approach to this this election, very methodical.

KING: And just really quickly, he'll be in Florida tonight. Couple of other very important states, though, for Trump, right?

DETROW: That's right. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan are the states that put him in the White House, and you can expect him and the Democrats to spend a ton of time there, more than any other state.

KING: Get ready, guys.

NPR's Scott Detrow, thanks so much.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.