Nov 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump's low-energy reset

President Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach last night.

President Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach last night. Photo: Alon Skuy/AFP via Getty Images

Advisers knew former President Trump, bleeding support among Republicans for his wild antics over the past week, needed a reset during last night's 2024 announcement. So the text was deliberately low-key.

The big picture: Trump's delivery was so restrained, even languid, that it was widely derided as "low energy" — Trump's devastating jab at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during the 2016 primaries.

  • The tightly scripted, staff-driven speech reflected Trump's weakened position post-midterms. None of the cocky swagger and energy of his 2016 announcement.

This was a nostalgic, glory-days speech — Trump playing the hits.

  • He painted an apocalyptic picture of American decline under President Biden.
  • But Trump has done this schtick so many times before that he seemed bored by the text.
  • It's not unusual for him to be bored by the words in his teleprompter. But his tone was flatter than usual. Even his ad-libs were low energy.

Behind the scenes: Trump advisers had pushed for the more disciplined approach after Trump found himself on the defensive after Republican midterm losses.

  • That prompted him to lash out with unhinged attacks on potential 2024 rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
  • Jeb Bush Jr. helped his dad get the last laugh by tweeting: "What a low energy speech by the Donald. ... #SleepyDonnie."

What's next 2024 rematch begins: Trump took on his successor, and possible 2024 opponent, by name.

  • "Unlike Biden possibly getting us into World War 3, which can seriously happen, I will keep America out of foolish and unnecessary foreign wars, just as I did for four straight years," Trump said.

Hours before Trump's speech, the White House launched a new webpage, "The Biden-Harris record," highlighting legislative wins, Axios' Sophia Cai first reported.

  • White House press official Andrew Bates tweeted while Trump was still speaking: "Bored? A lot of people are. Read about @POTUS's high energy record!"
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