The billionaire who made even more money off the catchphrase “you’re fired” promised Tuesday to be the “greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
Donald Trump announced he was seeking the Republican nomination for president on Tuesday morning, in the glitzy Midtown Manhattan skyscraper that bears his name and within feet of two gift shops selling his books, ties and branded paraphernalia.
“Wow, that is some group of people – thousands!” he exclaimed at a group of about 300 fans assembled in the balcony on the floor of the Trump Tower’s atrium, overlooking a flag-draped stage. His announcement, a rambling, 45-minute address that often veered off prepared remarks, offered up a bombastic political ideology and often perplexing world view where China is the great threat, unemployment is at 21%, and Mexican rapists are coming across the border.
He took shots at his Republican rivals, offered health care for everyone and plugged his book.
“When was the last time anybody saw us beating, say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time,” Trump said. “It’s like, take the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and have them play your high school football team. That’s the difference between China’s leaders and our leaders.”
He spoke at length about jobs, arguing that the country’s 5.6% unemployment was inaccurate and that it was actually between 18-21%. “There are no jobs, ‘cause China has our jobs,” he said.
Trump’s candidacy – which will become official once he files with the Federal Elections Commission – brings a heavy dose of celebrity and riches to the race.
The real estate mogul intends to self-fund his campaign from a net worth of what he claims is $9 billion.
“I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money, I’m not using the lobbyists, I’m not using donors, I don’t care. I’m really rich,” Trump said.
“I’m not doing this to brag, ‘cause I don’t have to … I’m the kind of thinking our country needs,” he said, all the while namedropping and boasting of his achievements as a businessman.
He argued that 2016 would be a competition of “competence” – the kind he doesn’t see in other candidates.
In a swipe at Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who announced his own 2016 candidacy from a sweltering airport hangar, Trump said: “Some of the candidates, they went in, they didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work. They sweated like dogs. How are they going to beat ISIS?” Nevermind that Texas is about as hot as Iraq in the summer.
Trump slammed undocumented immigrants, claiming that the majority of those who make it the United States “are bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. Some, I assume, are good people.” And then Trump offered this: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”
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It was the kind of rhetoric the GOP has been hoping to avoid. The polls are showing mixed reactions. In a national poll by Quinnipiac, Trump led the crowded Republican Party as the least-liked candidate, with 21% of Republicans saying they “definitely would not support” him in the Republican primary. Just 5% said they’d vote for Trump if the election were held today. But on average, Trump is middling in a crowded field. RealClearPolitics has him averaging at about 3.6%, ahead of Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Trump’s fans, however, couldn’t be more excited and his aides are hoping the name recognition will carry their candidate to unexpected success in 2016.
“I don’t care what they say, [Trump] taps into the angst, if not the anger, of the American people that this stuff is unacceptable, this is not the way it’s supposed to be,” key Iowa aide Chuck Launder told msnbc recently. “If they want to call it a sideshow they can call it that all the way into the fall of 2016.”