Although Donald Trump’s rally down in Melbourne, Florida tonight has been reported as being an early part of the president’s reelection bid for 2020, it read much more like a blast from the not-so-distant past. Over the course of the speech, Trump played a number of his favorite riffs from the 2016 campaign, including his number one, most requested track: the lying media, a.k.a. “the enemy of the American People.” After that, he took a few swipes at his now defeated rival Hillary Clinton—managing to simply refer to Clinton as “my opponent” for once, instead of calling for her to be locked up by name. Then there were some references to his incredible ability as a deal maker, demanding that the reinvigorated Dakota pipeline be made only with real American metal, ensuring a real American oil spill somewhere down the line. Then some more free-form yelling at the media. (Sample lyrics: “When the media lies to people, I will never, ever let them get away with it. I will do whatever I can that they don’t get away with it.”)
Follow it up with “Clean Coal,” “I’ll Save Your Jobs,” and that bona fide club banger, “Build The Wall.” Then an encore of “Fake News,” before finishing the set list with some rank populism, a few jabs at political correctness, some faux humility, and then finally a literal Rolling Stones song, as if to fully embody the image of an aging performer trotting out the hits.
Speaking of populism, the one unexpected moment in the speech came when Trump called a supporter up to the podium to talk. Gene Huber earned some TV attention by being the first person in line for the rally today, and Trump apparently saw him expressing his love for the president to the TV networks covering the event. Invited to hop the fence to join Trump on stage, Huber gave a fairly predictable speech of support for his hero. He gave a far more interesting one after the event, though, telling CNN that he owns a “six-foot cardboard box of President Trump” that he apparently salutes every day. (It seems likely that Huber meant a cardboard cut-out of the president, not an actual box, even if the image of him saluting a refrigerator box with a bad wig glued on top presents a certain irresistible appeal.)
Meanwhile, there’s only one 2016 hit that Trump decidedly kept out of his repertoire: his close personal friendship with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. That’s actually somewhat worrying, given the closed-door session FBI Director James Comey had today with lawmakers on the Hill. According to Fox News, even normally combative senators and representatives are being very quiet about whatever they were told about Russian influence on the 2016 election. It’s not clear what was said, but it’s possible that it might explain why Trump left such a beloved old favorite off his list.