U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a "Thank You USA" tour rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S. December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File photo
Donald Trump loved running for president. The Republican reveled in the parts of the campaign that included applause, fawning audiences, bright lights, and plenty of cameras, each of which made Trump feel very good about himself.
It’s probably why, after the election, the president blew off many of his transition duties and hit the road for a series of self-indulgent campaign rallies – exclusively in red states – giving Trump an opportunity to celebrate himself before taking office and getting to work.
At least, that was the idea. Now that he’s been in the White House for a few weeks, it appears Trump is eager to go back to the parts of the job he actually liked.
In an extraordinarily swift return to politicking after a tumultuous first month in office, the White House on Wednesday said President Trump will hold the first campaign rally of his four-week-old administration on Saturday.
The rally, to be held in an airplane hangar in Melbourne, Fla., is an indication that Mr. Trump, who has sometimes felt isolated in the White House, is eager to get outside of Washington and relive the rapturous reception that greeted him during the presidential campaign.
I heard some jokes yesterday that Trump really just wanted to go back to his Mar-a-Lago resort for the third consecutive weekend, and tacked on a rally nearby to help justify his peripatetic habits, but I think there’s more to this.
For one thing, it’s a reminder that Trump continues to prefer being a candidate to being a president. Leading the executive branch of a global superpower is incredibly difficult; celebrating one’s self before adoring followers is easy. The former is grueling; the latter is fun. Is it any wonder Trump is already eager to bask in the cheers of a crowd again?
The New Republic’s Alex Shephard put it this way in December: “Donald Trump, a man who has a very short attention span and requires instant gratification more or less constantly, loves campaigning because he has a very short attention span and requires instant gratification more or less constantly.”
But what’s especially interesting about this week’s rally is that it’s apparently not a presidential event. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, asked about the Florida gathering yesterday, told reporters, “It’s being run by the campaign.”
I realize Spicer says a lot of things that shouldn’t be taken seriously, but in this case, I think he was serious. Less than a month into his first term, the president is holding a campaign rally in a swing state.
And I mean “campaign” in a literal sense. Donald Trump already has a campaign office, campaign staff, money in the campaign coffers, and even an official campaign slogan, all in advance of an election that’s 44 months away.
In other words, as profoundly silly as this may sound, the first campaign event of the 2020 election cycle will be … this Saturday.
In December, Kellyanne Conway denounced what she called the “permanent campaign.” That seems kind of hilarious now.