Donald Trump, the 69-year-old billionaire businessman who has spent weeks titillating the American people about a possible presidential run, formally announced on Tuesday: Yes, I am joining the race.
His entrance to the stage was somewhat delayed. His daughter introduced him, but those in the audience had to wait several moments for him to physically approach the podium, while “Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young blasted in the background – nearly the whole song.
But his opening words, when he finally arrived: “That is some group of people, thousands. … It’s great to be at Trump Tower, in the wonderful city of New York, and it’s an honor to be here. There’s been no crowd like this.”
He then went on: “Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. When is the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China, in a trade deal? I beat China all the time. When did we beat Japan, at anything? … When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn’t exist.”
Trump then spoke about immigration and Mexico.
“When did we beat Mexico? They’re laughing at us at the border,” he said. “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. It’s true,” he said, referring to Mexico sending America “drugs, rapists,” and the like.
“It’s gotta stop,” he said, “and it’s gotta stop fast. Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East. They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them.”
Among his other pre-announcement statements: The U.S. failed on Middle Eastern policy by letting Iran take over Iraq. America’s gross domestic product was just rated as “below zero,” and the labor participation rate continues to lag.
“A lot of people … can’t get jobs because China has our jobs and Mexico has our jobs,” he said, referring to real unemployment number in the double digits.
Trump also brought up the failures of Obamacare and the disaster of the federal health-care website, which he rated as a $5 billion waste.
“We have a disaster called the Big Lie: Obamacare. Yesterday it came out that costs are going up … even 55 percent. And deductibles are going through the roof,” he said.
Cries of “We want Trump” interrupted his remarks – and his reply?
“Well, you need someone,” he said.
After minutes of what seemed to be somewhat rambling, off-the-cuff remarks – including a plug for President Obama to play his golf courses – Trump finally said:
“So, I watch the politicians, I’ve dealt with them all my life. … They will never make America great again, they don’t even have a chance. They’re controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors, by the special interests. … Our country needs a truly great leader and we need a truly great leader now. We need a leader that wrote the art of the deal, we need a leader that can bring back our jobs, can bring back our manufacturing, can bring back our military … and we also need a cheerleader.”
And then: “We need somebody who can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. … Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States and we are going to make our country great again.”
With that, the music kicked in again – and then Trump spoke of his fervor to bolster the economy of the United States again.
“The greatest social program is a job,” he said. “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
He spoke for several other minutes of the need to keep an eye China and bring America back to the forefront of the world’s economy again.
Trump wrapped up nearly an hour later, with a promise to the American people: “Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president, then I will bring it back, bigger, stronger and better than before, and we will make it great again.”
Talk-radio host and political analyst Rush Limbaugh said he was glued to the television as Trump made his announcement.
“I was riveted watching this for a whole host of reasons,” Limbaugh said.
When the phone rang in the radio studio’s office interrupting Trump’s speech, Limbaugh said he barked orders to “Answer the blank-blank phone!”
Then he said he realized, “There hasn’t been a single other person give a political speech in years that if the phone rang and interrupted him, I’da been mad.”
But Limbaugh also said he was not endorsing Trump or any Republican candidate, and that he was not even jazzed yet: “This is all so premature, and it’s all so early that whatever polling numbers there are do not interest me.”
He concluded by saying: “Remember [Ross] Perot. That ended up being third party, and it gave us Bill Clinton arguably. … You can see this setting up. If Trump decides to go third party, if anybody decides to go third party, then you can say, ‘Hello, Hillary.’ And Hillary’s an absolute disaster. This is what bamboozles me. If that’s the best the Democrats can come up with, they don’t deserve to win. The best thing she’s got gong for her is there’s a D [for Democrat] by her name. … I don’t understand the fear. I do not understand why people are so afraid of Hillary Clinton.”
And he also warned: “The more the media hates this and makes fun of it, the more support Trump’s going to get.”
Responses from other arenas trickled in, too.
The Democratic National Committee’s press secretary Holly Shulman put out a statement about Trump’s run, saying the billionaire brings “some much-needed serious [tone] that has been lacking from the GOP field.”
Twitter, meanwhile, went wild.
“Watching Trump,” wrote Larry Sabato, a noted political pollster. “It’s Christmas in June. Fellow pundits, we don’t deserve this good fortune, but we’re getting it anyway. Life is good.”
Another Twitter poster wrote: “Donald Trump sounds like America’s drunk conservative uncle.”
And another, mulling the outcome of a Trump debate with other GOP hopefuls: “Am I alone in thinking the green/ yellow/ red lights on a stage might not matter if Mr. Trump is in the debates?”
A few, however, were pleased with the prospect of a Trump candidate, writing on social media, “Donald Trump is what we need,” and another, “Donald Trump is running for president,” with hand-clap images.
The announcement from Trump Tower in New York comes after the “Celebrity Apprentice” host began hiring staff in states that vote early, as well as visiting Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In March, Trump also announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.
The GOP field is already crowded, and includes: Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; former business chief executive Carly Fiorina; former New York Gov. George Pataki; and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Under the category of “likely to announce” fall New Jersey Gov. Christ Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Fox News reported Trump is headed to New Hampshire on Wednesday. He’s listed as No. 9 in recent polls, and could see a substantial climb in the days to come, given his formal entrance into the campaign.