Say goodbye to MAGA Country, and hello to … KAGville? “How do you give up the number one call it theme, logo, statement, in the history of politics for a new one?” Donald Trump asked an overflow crowd in Orlando, where he formally launched his re-election campaign. Simple — you declare mission accomplished to Make America Great Again. The new mission statement: Keep America Great.
And indeed, the president declared victory on a number of fronts:
Trump claimed his presidential tenure has borne true his new campaign slogan, pointing to his administration’s accomplishments.
“We have really done it,” the Republican said. “We have rebuilt our military, it’s still in the process.”
“We’ve taken care of our vets. We’ve cut the hell out of regulations.”
Trump remarked if he loses in 2020 under the “Keep America Great” banner, people will criticize the slogan change. But so confident is the president, he didn’t consider a 2020 loss to be within the realm of possibility.
If Trump wins or loses, it won’t be because of a slogan change, although it’s still curious why he wants to change it now. Trump knows full well the value of a brand, and MAGA is nearly iconic in its branding after four years. It might have seemed clumsy and arguably negative when Trump launched it, but it has gotten a massive response. It has become a media shortcut to identify the Trump tribe in a way that “Yes We Can” never became for Obama, who nonetheless had great success with the slogan.
Trump’s predecessor is a case in point about changing brands. Everyone remembers the first campaign slogan; how many remember the second campaign slogan? I had to look it up, and I’d bet most readers would, too.
Obama won anyway, but still — how do you go from MAGA Country, which has a certain attractive metric hook to it, to KAG Country? The change seems somewhat unnecessary, too. Trump could well argue that he’s been making rapid advances toward greatness, but that he needs a second term to truly MAGA. In fact, that’s pretty much every incumbent president’s argument for a second term, including Obama’s.
Trump’s rally was a big success, as even the New York Times had to admit:
President Trump delivered a fierce denunciation of the news media, the political establishment and what he called his radical opponents on Tuesday as he opened his re-election campaign in front of a huge crowd of raucous supporters by evoking the dark messaging and personal grievances that animated his 2016 victory.
Almost four years to the day since he announced his first, improbable run for public office from the basement of Trump Tower in Manhattan, Mr. Trump mocked and disparaged Democrats, calling them the leaders of an “angry, left-wing mob” and declaring that the 2020 election will be a “verdict on the un-American conduct of those who tried to undermine our great democracy, undermine you.” …
“Our political opponents look down with hatred on our values and with utter disdain for the people whose lives they want to run,” Mr. Trump told a packed arena, later mocking Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and a Democratic rival for the presidency, as “Sleepy Joe.”
And while the headlines today will be about the new slogan, Trump unveiled the new theme of his 2020 campaign. He wants to attack “radical socialism” head-on and paint the Democrats as marching off a historical cliff:
"No matter what label they give, a vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism & destruction of the American Dream. Don’t ever forget, this election is about you. It’s about your family, your future, & the fate of your country." #TrumpRallyOrlando pic.twitter.com/nUJV9mRsX0
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) June 19, 2019
Save Keep America Great for the merchandising arm. The more Trump hammers on this theme, the stronger his campaign will grow.
Update: The RNC’s happy with the new slogan thus far:
@realDonaldTrump has raised a record breaking $24.8M in less than 24 hours for his re-election. The enthusiasm across the country for this President is unmatched and unlike anything we’ve ever seen! #trump2020 #KeepAmericaGreat
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) June 19, 2019
That stacks up impressively against the Democratic field, Fox Business News notes:
Trump’s opponents announced how much their campaigns took in within 24 hours of their bids. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who declared his bid for the presidency in February, said he raised $5.9 million within 24 hours of his announcement. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who announced his bid in April, raised $6.3 million within the first day of his 2020 launch, according to his campaign. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who announced she was running in January, raised more than $1.5 million within 24 hours.
Turns out that last night was quite the KAGger after all.