President Trump announced Friday that he would formally kick off his 2020 reelection bid in the heart of Florida—a battleground state crucial to his strategy for remaining at the White House.
“I will be announcing my Second Term Presidential Run with First Lady Melania, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence on June 18th in Orlando, Florida, at the 20,000 seat Amway Center,” the president tweeted Friday with a link to tickets to the event. “Join us for this Historic Rally!”
Mr. Trump picked the swing-iest part of this presidential swing state for his formal campaign launch. Orlando is right in the middle of the I-4 corridor, the voter-rich highway that slashes across Florida and is the traditional political pathway to statewide victory.
While Mr. Trump lost Orange County, home to Orlando, in 2016, it has been in play in previous presidential cycles. Mr. Trump won Florida with 48 percent of the votes over Hillary Clinton’s 47 percent, which netted him the state’s 29 electoral votes.
In a brief phone interview with CBS, a top Trump campaign official emphasized the importance of the state to the president’s chances for re-election. When asked how significant Florida was to the president’s chances of retaking the White House, the official responded in one word: “Very.”
“It is essential for victory,” He added. “A state that Republicans are faring better in — and one that the president expects to win.”
The Sunshine State has been placed on such a high priority that while the rest of the country’s political landscape is broken up in 8 regions by the campaign and the RNC, Florida gets its own political “region” on the map.
“Florida is the only state that stands as a region unto itself,” a senior campaign aide informed CBS. “We will have a significant presence there.”
The campaign is also planning on targeting Florida Latino voters, in particular those in the Venezuelan American and Cuban America communities who back the president’s “forceful support of freedom over socialist dictatorships,” a campaign official said.
“We will also have an aggressive Hispanic coalition, outreach to Hispanic and Latino voters, and also be very aggressive in Spanish-language media,” the adviser added.
The Trump campaign points to the Florida’s “red hot” economy since the president took office and his “personal connection to the state” —— as factors that will resonate with Florida voters in 2020.
“His message of ‘promises made, promises kept’ will resonate in the Sunshine State and will propel him to re-election,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman.
The path to 270 electoral votes may be narrower for Mr. Trump in 2020, a former top 2016 campaign official told CBS recently. Democrats are planning on being more competitive in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania—all of which went to Mr. Trump in the last election.
While President Trump will be formally launching his campaign in Florida on June 18th, it comes as no surprise. His re-election campaign committee filed with the Federal Election Commission on the day he took office. And he’s done 58 Trump campaign rallies across the country since March 2017.
Mark Knoller contributed to this report