Some 20,000 people gathered at a sports stadium in Orlando, in the key swing state of Florida, this week to see Donald Trump formally launch his bid for re-election to the White House in 2020.
In an event that attracted crowds of pro- and anti-Trump protesters, including far-right group the Proud Boys, the president said his intention is to ‘keep America great‘ – a tweak to his familiar ‘make America great again' slogan.
Mr Trump made a number of bold claims during his speech, but Democratic contender Bernie Sanders said the president was “living in a parallel universe“.
Trump takes aim at Democrats
Speaking for approximately 80 minutes at Orlando's Amway Centre, the 45th president of the United States focused much of his attention on the Democrat party, making unfounded claims that his political opponents would “strip Americans of their constitutional rights” and allow illegal immigrants into the country “in the hopes it will expand their political base”.
“Just imagine what this angry left-wing mob would do if they were in charge of this country,” he said. “Imagine if we had a Democrat president and Democrat Congress in 2020. They would shut down your free speech, use the power of the law to punish their opponents, which they are trying to do now anyway.”
Having tweeted earlier in the week that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement was set to begin the process of removing “millions of illegal aliens” from the country, Mr Trump made a renewed pledge to continue the crackdown on illicit immigration into the US.
He attracted cheers from the crowd when he said a nation “must care for its own citizens first”.
The president's re-election bid has started strongly from a financial standpoint, with Republican party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel saying the campaign raised some $24.8 million (£18.9 million) in a single day, more than the top Democratic contenders generated during the first three months of this year.
The Democrat response
Mr Sanders gave an instant response to Mr Trump's campaign launch, arguing that the president is “way out of touch with ordinary people” and “must be defeated“.
The Vermont senator highlighted several specific points that weren't mentioned in Mr Trump's speech, including climate change, the tens of millions of people in the US living pay cheque to pay cheque, the $1.5 billion student debt crisis and the 40,000 gun deaths the country sees every year.
“Our most important job is to defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country,” added Mr Sanders.
Another contender for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 election, former vice-president Joe Biden, also went on the offensive, accusing Mr Trump of attacking women's rights, delivering tax cuts only for the super-wealthy and undermining America's standing around the world.
“This is truly the most important election of our lifetime. If we want to defeat Donald Trump, it's going to take everyone stepping up, speaking out, and taking action,” Mr Biden tweeted.
The economic picture
The economy will be one of the key points of debate in the build-up to the 2020 presidential election.
During his speech in Orlando, Mr Trump claimed the economy was “soaring to new heights” and was “perhaps the greatest economy we've had in the history of our country”, although past data shows stronger rates of growth in the 1980s and '90s.
Mr Biden responded by saying: “Let's be clear: President Trump inherited a growing economy from the Obama-Biden administration. And now, he's in the process of squandering it.”
The Trump presidency has been partly defined over the past year or so by the tit-for-tat trade war with China, which has had a big impact on investor sentiment and stock markets in the US. There was a significant decline on the markets last month, when both countries implemented tariffs on billions of dollars worth of imported goods.
This week, there have been more positive trends, with stocks climbing on Tuesday after Mr Trump tweeted about a “very good” discussion with Chinese president Xi Jinping, and said he would meet with him at next week's G20 summit in Japan.
Markets have also responded positively to signals of a forthcoming interest rate cut from the US Federal Reserve, which has previously been criticised by the president for its reluctance to reduce interest rates.
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