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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

It was a blast from the past.

President Trump officially announced his 2020 campaign on Tuesday evening with a raucous rally in Orlando, Florida, where Trump treated 20,000 of his most loyal fans with a production more reminiscent of his 2016 shock-jock performances than a new and improved reelection bid.

TPM watched the affair so you don’t have to. Here’s what you missed:

Don Jr. kicks things off by mocking Biden for not curing cancer

Donald Trump Jr. was sent out to warm up the crowd of Make America Great Again groupies, who are apparently entertained by cancer jokes about Trump’s Democratic rivals.

During his opening remarks, Trump Jr. mocked former Vice President Joe Biden for announcing last week that if he’s elected, he’d find a cure for cancer.

“If government failed you then maybe you’re the problem Joe Biden. It’s not rocket science,” Trump Jr. said. “What was the good one last week? Remember he comes out, well, if you elect me president, I’m going to cure cancer. Wow. Why the hell didn’t you do that over the last 50 years?”

Biden’s son, Beau Biden, died in 2015 of brain cancer at the age of 46.

Crowd size will always be crucial

The Trump campaign went above and beyond to ensure there was no question about how much Florida loves President Trump.

According to the New York Times, the campaign rented buses to bring in supporters from across the state to fill the 20,000 seat venue and an overflow crowd outside. Aides also made sure to tell the Times that the crowd was bigger than any seen at Democratic candidates’ announcements.

While the arena was filled to the brim, the Times pointed out that many of the supporters didn’t stay for the entire speech.

Familiar foes are still a crowd-pleaser

The President didn’t take many risks in riling up the crowd, repeatedly turning to familiar sources of his ire to incite angst.

The Russia investigation — which he claimed he “won” — was a favorite target for the MAGA-clad clan.

“The Democrats do not care about Russia. They only care about their own clinical power. They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone I’ve almost known and worked with, but they are really going after you. That’s what it is all about. It’s not about us but you. They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history of our country.”

While Trump’s rants about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation were sprinkled throughout the entire speech, his former foe and favorite punching bag, Hillary Clinton, was mentioned just as frequently. In one 30-minute span of diatribe, Trump mentioned her name seven times.

And throughout the evening, the mere mention of her name incited “Lock Her Up!” calls from the crowd.

CNN took a small stand

Predictably, four minutes into the show, Trump attacked the media, pointing specifically to the press pen in the back of the room as the crowd booed.

As he bragged about his historic 2016 win, Trump dragged reporters and the press at large for not predicting he would take the presidency over Clinton.

“2016 was not merely another four-year election. This was a defining moment in American history. Ask them right there,” he said, pointing at reporters as the crowd expressed its disdain. A group then began chanting “CNN sucks” as Trump turned to look at the crowd, offering only a shrug and a few eyebrow raises as encouragement.

“By the way, that is a lot of fake news back there. That’s a lot,” he said.

CNN then cut away to host John Berman, who pointed out that Trump did at least mention the economy within two minutes of taking center-stage.

Trump still thinks he’s draining the swamp

Despite getting regular bearhugs by some of the most senior members of the Republican establishment — like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)  — Trump coddled his base on Tuesday evening by going after the “Washington insiders” and establishment politicians.

“The people trying to stop our movement are the same Washington insiders who spent their careers rigging the system so your losses will be their gains, you know that,” he said. “These are the same career politicians who presided over decades of lost wages, the loss of our manufacturing jobs … a growing wealth gap and one ruinous trade deal after another.”

Rubio wants everyone to know: It’s not weird that he showed up

As a sidebar: Rubio got dragged for getting so defensive on Twitter about his attendance at the campaign kickoff.

“The Daily” host Michael Barbaro noted in a tweet how “strange” it was to see Rubio, a fierce former opponent of Trump in 2016, “smiling and chuckling” in the audience when the bad blood between the two has barely chilled in the past two years.

Rubio responded with sarcasm and several reporters pounced on the “disingenuous” remark.

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