Govs. Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Scott Walker (R-WI) were the front-runners at the time. They were formidable, but they gave Trump an opening on immigration because they, along with the general bipartisan consensus among mainstream politicians at the time, had supported granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.
This time, it is different. There is nothing fresh about Trump’s face. He has been on the political stage nonstop for seven years now. And about 50 minutes into his presidential campaign announcement Tuesday night, he basically admitted as much.
“I don’t like to think of myself as a politician, but I guess that’s what I am,” Trump said in the middle of a rant on parental rights. “I hate that thought.”
No wonder the entire speech was so “low energy.”
Trump is no longer the savvy businessman coming in to fix all the problems career politicians don’t have the will or courage to address. Now, he is just another politician. And I bet he really does hate that thought.
He also won’t have the same opportunity with immigration. This is largely because he himself helped change the mainstream Republican position from what it had been in the Bush era. Now, his chief opponents will agree with him on the issue.
At a bare minimum, Trump did not seem like he was having fun last night. Maybe the Mar-a-Lago crowd was too old and too upscale for him to connect with. Whatever the reasons, he just seemed … off. Like, he really wanted to be talking about something else (like the 2020 election), but his advisers (wisely) convinced him not to.
If Trump is going to defeat Republican challengers again, and he will have to, he’s going to have to find a way to jettison “politician Trump” and bring back the fun-loving businessman Trump. Because last night’s “politician Trump” was a total snooze fest.