Former US President Donald Trump has officially announced his third run for the White House, kicking off the 2024 presidential election cycle even as the country is still wrapping up the 2022 midterms, which have left him a much-diminished figure on account of the defeat of Republican candidates backed by him.
"To make America great again, I am today announcing my candidacy for the President of the United States," Trump announced at an event on Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago, his resort-cum-residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
The former President read from a teleprompter, which he had disparaged earlier as a prop for less accomplished speakers, and stuck to the script, which was also unusual. And, he seemed to lack the energy that he is known to display at campaign rallies.
It was a very mellowed version of Trump that Trump put up.
Trump also never once repeated his lies about losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden because of fraud, which appear to have been rejected summarily by voters in the November 8 midterm elections.
Candidates he backed rode those lies in the expectation of winning, but didn't.
Trump's case for seeking a second term was simply this: at the end of his administration in 2020, the US was in a great shape, and it's been in decline under his successor.
"We were a strong nation and importantly, we were a free nation," he said, adding: "But now we are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation. For millions of Americans, the past two years under Joe Biden have been a time of pain, hardship, anxiety and despair."
Trump slammed Biden on inflation, Afghanistan, gas prices, immigration -- influx of migrants at the southern border with Mexico, his pet theme -- and for paying far too much attention to climate change when nuclear weapons posed a graver and more urgent threat to humanity.
By attacking Biden, Trump was setting it up as a direct fight between him and the president. He did not name any of the other Republicans who are said to be toying a run such as Ron DeSantis, the Governor or Florida, who has emerged as a frontrunner after his massive re-election victory.
Former Vice President Mike Pence is also said to be toying a run, as is former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trump's advisers had urged him to delay the announcement as the midterm isn't over yet; there is a run for the Senate race in Georgia in December and Republicans wanted the party and donors to focus on it. But the former president wasn't persuaded and there he was, becoming the first in.
President Biden, who is in Bali attending the G20 summit, has said he has every intention of running for a second term and will make an announcement sometime early next year after consulting his family.
But he is said to clearly relish running against the man he beat in 2016.
Biden tweeted what looked like an attack ad on Trump earlier Tuesday. In a split screen video, Biden is shown signing into law a massive investment on infrastructure, while Trump is shown promising that same investment, which in the end never came.
"Talking" is the caption for Trump, and "Delivering" for Biden.
The president posted another attack video around the time of Trump's announcement, saying "Donald Trump failed America".
The 2024 presidential election is well and truly underway.