Trump Holds A 2016 Rally, Not A 2020 One

by Chris Tognotti
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President Donald J. Trump just held a campaign rally, slightly less than one month into his first term as president. At least, that's how White House press secretary Sean Spicer described it, leading CNN's Jim Acosta to conclude "so the 2020 campaign has begun." And yet, anyone who watched the rally in Melbourne, Florida with an even halfway skeptical ear may have noticed that it didn't sound like a preemptive 2020 speech. Rather, it sounded more like a blast from the past: here are 7 Trump rally quotes that show he's stuck in 2016.

It would be no surprise if Trump were feeling a bit nostalgic for the simpler, less consequential days of his presidential campaign, back before he were the single most powerful person on Earth. Back then, he didn't bear any responsibility or accountability for any actual governing decisions, and anytime a criticism was leveled at him, he could simply spin it into an attack on Hillary Clinton.

And, of course, he got the regular adrenaline rush of being in front of thousands of people, hanging on his every word. People who're bringing not just appreciation for his administration, but that teeming energy of an insurgent campaign.

That's a kind of adulation you simply don't get within the halls of the White House. But, beyond simply reliving the experience, he rehashed some old lines and complaints too.

1. "We Don't Win Anymore"

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We don't fight to win. We fight politically-correct wars. We don't win anymore. We don't win at trade, we don't win in any capacity. We don't win anymore. We're going to start winning again, believe me.

At some point over the next four years, Trump will surely flip a switch and start claiming we are winning again. But now is clearly not the time, as he trotted out one of his go-to lines from the campaign. Suffice to say, a sitting president saying "we don't win in any capacity" is a strange sight.

2. "The Democrats Were Supposed To Win"

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The Democrats were supposed to win the presidency, that didn't happen. They were supposed to take over the Senate, that didn't happen. And they were supposed to take over potentially even the House. It was going to be, four weeks out, the greatest defeat in the modern history of American politics. And it was, but it was for the Democrats, not for the Republicans.

Stop me if you've heard this before, but Trump spent some time rehashing his election win. Obviously, he couldn't precisely use this line before Nov. 8, but if there's such a thing as a standard hit for Trump's fixation on the 2016 year, this is it.

3. "If My Opponent Got In"

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In other words, if my opponent got it, there would have been no calls to Lockheed and Boeing. They would've signed contracts.

Mentioning Hillary Clinton (albeit without specifically citing her by name) is a sure sign the president is happier living life in the past than the present. You won! Congratulations. She's not involved in any of this any more.

4. "Look at Brexit!"

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You're all part of this incredible movement. This movement that we talk about so much. That's been written about on the cover of every magazine all over the world. It's a movement that is just sweeping. It's sweeping across our country. It's sweeping frankly across the globe. Look at Brexit. Look at Brexit. Much smaller example, but it's still something you can look at.

During the campaign, Trump was fond of pointing to the United Kingdom's Brexit vote in order to explain why he was ultimately going to win. In fact, he even once dubbed himself "Mr. Brexit." But it sure was strange to hear him drop that same line in his Florida rally ― why keep pointing out Brexit when you've already won? Trump's own election would seem a more notable expression of his "movement" than Brexit is.

5. "The Media Won't Show This Crowd"

By the way, do you think that one media group back there, that one network, will show this crowd? Not one. Not one. They won't show the crowd.

The cameras at the rally did all reportedly capture the size of Trump's crowd, which according to a tweet from the Melbourne Police Department was 9,000 strong ― a far cry from his campaign crowd sizes, but still a large amount of people. Then again, they were doing that during the campaign too, so this must've been yet another case of "alternative facts."

6. "To Protect Our Cops"

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So, I've directed the Department of Justice to take a firm, firm stance to protect our cops, sheriffs, and police from crimes of violence against them. We will work with our police, not against our police. Our police do a great job, and they've never been troubled like they're troubled now, it's very unfair what's happening.

There were few explicitly domestic and non-economic policy positions Trump staked out as forcefully as his support for law enforcement, which he frequently characterized as being under assault, alongside his claim that violent crime had dramatically escalated. In reality, violent crime remains low by recent historical standards, and while violence against law enforcement increased in 2016, it's still rarely been safer to be a police officer.

7. You Can't Always Get What You Want

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And, of course, how else could it finish? Trump once again closed a rally with the strains of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones, the same song he strangely used all throughout his presidential run, despite the band's public objections. Will he still be using it come 2020? Only time will tell.

All in all, if the goal was to boost the president's flagging spirits amid a rough first month in the Oval Office, it may have been a success. It's less clear whether the rally coverage will in any way be able to overshadow the other huge news items embroiling his presidency at the moment, however, perhaps chiefest among them the ongoing scandal surrounding ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn.