Trump chooses huge arena in crucial state for 2020 campaign launch





Washington - By Gretel Johnston, US President Donald Trump has chosen a large and strategically located arena to launch his re-election bid on Tuesday - a site far from the home turf of the Trump Tower in New York City, where he kicked off his 2016 candidacy with an escalator ride.

Donald Trump used an escalator ride to launch his bid for president four years ago. The launch of his re-election bid will contrast sharply with that stunt as the limelight-loving president heads to a large arena in Florida, a battleground state he can't afford to lose in the race for a second term.



 
Trump was dismissed and even derided for descending on the escalator in the atrium of his Manhattan hotel to make his announcement four years ago. But it is a stunt now recognized as the moment when the ground shifted under US presidential politics.
Ahead of the event his campaign workers had to hire actors to increase the crowd size, paying them to wear hats and T-shirts with his now famous "Make America Great Again" slogan. It will be the other way around at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, where such election swag will be on sale to a crowd expected to lap it up.
The real estate mogul and former reality television star never imagined four years ago he could draw tens of thousands of people, said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy. He's since realized he can, and on Tuesday will use that to his advantage.
The venue is the 20,000-seat arena, and Coker said it's likely that even in the Florida heat with thunderstorms possible there will be outdoor public viewing places near the arena for people who didn't get tickets to be on the inside.
The event will be held during prime-time broadcast hours, at 8 pm (0000 GMT), as opposed to daytime as it was in 2015, and the choice of Florida is very significant, the political strategist told dpa. The president's 2016 victory might have run straight through "rust belt" states in the north, but next year the south-eastern state will be the most important of the battleground states.
"Without Florida, he can't win. Period," Coker said, noting that Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Florida by only one percentage point.
Winning the state has not been a given for either party in decades. The margin in every presidential race since 2000 has been one or two points, and the closeness of the divide was a big factor in the Trump campaign's decision to announce in Orlando, Coker said.
The selection of the arena near the centre of the state is also strategic because it is surrounded by voters in suburban areas who must turn out for Trump if he's going to win the state. Trump performed well in those areas in 2016 by getting people fired up and to the polls, Coker said.
The president has already tweeted his own excitement about Tuesday's event, claiming demand for tickets had topped 70,000.
"With all of the big events that we have done, this ticket looks to be the 'hottest' of them all," the president wrote on Twitter. He also tweeted that his campaign is "doing great in the polls, even better than in 2016," when nearly all pre-election predictions said Clinton would win easily.
The importance of winning Florida hasn't been lost on the Democrats, who are making an early push to win votes there by holding their first round of debates over two nights next week in Miami.
Former vice president Joe Biden, the current front-runner, will be among 10 Democrats participating in the June 27 debate, and a recent poll shows him tied with Trump in a head-to-head race in Florida.
But nearly all other polls published by Real Clear Politics show Trump losing to Biden and other candidates in other key states nationwide.
Trump however is certain to tout the strong US economy, and Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, notes that despite Trump's approval rating of just 44 per cent, the percentage of US voters who think the economy is "excellent" or "good" is near the all-time high.
"A very sturdy economy and folks with money in the bank. That's the magic combo the White House hopes to ride to re-election and those numbers remain solid," Malloy said.

Monday, June 17th 2019
By Gretel Johnston,
           


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