Despite his complaints about “fake news” and constant carping by Democrats, President Trump already is eyeing a second term.
The Trump campaign on Tuesday launched a new website that lays the groundwork for a re-election run. It touts Mr. Trump’s Oval Office achievements and solicits contributions.
Other presidents started organizing re-election bids early in their first term, but never has the effort been openly acknowledged as a re-election campaign this early. Mr. Trump has been in office 110 days.
Michael Glassner, executive director of Donald J. Trump for President Inc., said the website would deliver “current and compelling information for all Americans about the President’s policies, his achievements to Make America Great Again, and his re-election campaign.”
Mr. Glassner said it will provide visitors “a picture window” that will take them behind the scenes at Trump rallies and other campaign events.
The Trump campaign described the new website, www.donaldjtrump.com, as a “one-stop” destination to learn about how the president is spurring economic growth and is “changing the American political landscape.”
The early preparation for a re-election race isn’t a complete surprise. Mr. Trump frequently talks about his intention to spend “eight years” in the White House.
Two weeks after his upset victory in November, as he worked on the transition team, Mr. Trump tweeted: “Great meetings will take place today at Trump Tower concerning the formation of the people who will run our government for the next 8 years.”
The campaign has remained active since Mr. Trump took office. It paid for Mr. Trump’s rallies and ran TV ads highlighting Mr. Trump’s successes in his first 100 days.
President Barack Obama transformed his campaign apparatus into Organizing for America during his first term. That grass-roots operation, however, worked to promote Mr. Obama’s agenda and did not shift into campaign mode until closer to the race.
Organizing for America didn’t formally solicit contributions until Mr. Obama announced his re-election run in April 2011.
The Trump website’s home page features a photograph of the president disembarking a Marine One helicopter and saluting a Marine attendant in blue dress uniform. The page has three “contribute” buttons.
Mr. Trump, a billionaire businessman who self-funded most of his run in 2016, will need to cultivate donors and build donor lists if he doesn’t want to foot the bill again in 2020.
He didn’t seriously begin fundraising in 2016 until after securing the nomination. He had to play catch-up with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and lacked a national donor network.
“It is unprecedented to start campaigning for reelection this early, but this is an unprecedented president, so I don’t think we should expect anything less,” said GOP strategist Ryan Williams.
He also said it is a good idea.
“We’re in a state of perpetual campaigns at this point,” said Mr. Williams. “The Democrats are already sizing him up to run against him.”
Indeed, Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is stirring talk about a possible run. The left is looking for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to throw her hat in the ring.
There’s speculation that California Sen. Kamala D. Harris, who was sworn in for her first term four months ago, is positioning herself for a White House bid.
The Democratic National Committee laughed off Mr. Trump’s early moves for 2020.
“Should Donald Trump remain president until 2020, Democrats will be poised to take him on,” said DNC Deputy Communications Director Adrienne Watson.
The website also gives Mr. Trump another avenue to circumvent the news media and take his message directly to voters.
“President Trump believes in speaking directly with the American people. That is the very purpose of this new campaign website,” Mr. Glassner said. “It is an extension of the president’s plan to reinvent the American political system to benefit all Americans.”