In a speech that would have exhausted Fidel Castro, Donald Trump announced his 2024 campaign for president Tuesday night in Palm Beach, Florida.
Mr. Trump was cerebral in his lengthy remarks, which he delivered immediately after filing all the required legal paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission.
It was entirely by the book. Very serious. Sedate, even, by Trump standards.
The hour-plus speech was packed with policy positions and sharp critiques of the current administration. He was disciplined and largely stuck to reading from the teleprompter.
Gone was the glass escalator. No mention of “rapists.” And he didn’t threaten to lock anybody up.
Perhaps Mr. Trump’s only slip came when he promised not to say “fake news,” but said “fake news” in the process so that everybody would know exactly what it was he was not going to say.
“I will not use the term ‘fake news’ media,” he explained, referring to the press gathered in the back of the room at his palatial Mar-a-Lago. “We are going to keep it very elegant.”
In fairness, Mr. Trump was just trying to be precise and transparent.
Most interesting about Mr. Trump’s announcement are the similarities — and differences — between his announcement Tuesday night and his announcement more than seven years ago at his glittering skyscraper in Manhattan.
If you make a list of the issues that Mr. Trump identified in that 2015 speech that got him elected president the first time, they are all the same issues he talked about Tuesday night.
Illegal immigration, rising China, energy independence, impossible wars, law and order, and terrible trade deals. In short, America First versus groveling globalism.
Even his biggest enemies must admit: The guy is unwavering in his political convictions and unflinching in his clarity about them.
And on these issues, he is more in line with American voters than any politician from either party. This is why his enemies are so desperate to talk about Russia, hookers in Moscow, Ukrainian phone calls, Charlottesville, presidential papers at Mar-a-Lago, January 6th — anything other than the issues Mr. Trump has stood for since the very start of his political career.
Also, there were important differences between the two speeches.
The most obvious difference is that in 2015, Mr. Trump announced his campaign from the very bowels of the beast of Blue America. He announced in the wealthiest Democrat stronghold in the deepest of Democrat states: New York City.
Though Mr. Trump’s law-and-order message turned much of New York red in the latest election, he chose to announce his 2024 campaign from Florida, which is no longer a swing state — thanks to Mr. Trump and the new generation of Republican politicians he inspired and gave political life to.
The other major difference between the two speeches was Mr. Trump’s tone this week. It was more — as they say — “presidential.”
That’s because this time, Mr. Trump has been president. Last time, he was running as a marauder at the gates — desperate to bring attention to a border invasion that politicians from both parties in Washington had ignored for decades and were determined to continue ignoring.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Mr. Trump said in 2015. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
In Tuesday night’s speech, he made no mention of “rapists.”
“Our southern border has been erased and our country is being invaded by millions and millions of unknown people, many of whom are entering for very bad and sinister reasons,” he said, adding: “You know what that reason is.”
As I said, it was a highly presidential speech.
But in case anyone thinks Mr. Trump has hung up his marauder cleats, he also announced a new plank of his political agenda: a lifetime ban on members of Congress cashing in to become lobbyists after they leave office.
Just because the guy wisely spent the evening acting presidential doesn’t mean he isn’t still the marauder at the gates of Washington.
• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at The Washington Times.