Trump opens 2024 campaign with salvo on Biden: ‘Put America on the fast track to ruin’

The former president on Saturday chose to kick off his '24 campaign with two, smaller policy-based speeches, compared to the stadium-sized ones of 2016.

Published: January 28, 2023 10:34am

Updated: January 29, 2023 5:33am

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday slammed President Joe Biden's handling of the presidency, vowing to take back the White House in 2024 and reverse what he said was a precipitous decline in the United States since the Democrat took office. 

Trump was speaking to a crowd at the South Carolina state capitol, his second campaign event of the day after appearing before the New Hampshire Republican party earlier. 

South Carolina is a traditional Republican stronghold and a longtime bastion of conservative U.S. politics. The former president won the state resoundingly in both the 2016 and 2020 election; addressing the crowd, he vowed to win it by an even larger margin in 2024. 

"Joe Biden has put America on the fast track to ruin and destruction," Trump told the small crowd at the capitol, "and we will ensure that he does not receive four more years."

The Republican during his speech touted what he said was his own accomplished record while in the White House, including economic prosperity and secure border policy. 

"We built hundreds and hundreds of miles of [border] wall," he said. "And we had the greatest border in history."

The president appeared with multiple key South Carolina GOP leaders including Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Lindsey Graham. They will lead Trump's South Carolina presidential campaign, announced Trump, will also named to the team Ed McMullen and GOP Reps. Joe Wilson.

"The 2024 election is our one shot to save our country," he said, "and we need a leader who is ready to do that on Day One. ... Let's complete the unfinished business of making America great again."

Trump in his roughly 45-minute speech was also critical of "RINOs," an acronym for "Republicans in name only" and reiterated is Day One agenda announced Friday that includes giving parents more authority over public school leaders and curriculum and ending the "weaponization" of the Justice Department.

Trump began the day's events with a fiery rally speech in New Hampshire in which he told attendees he's "more angry" and "committed" than he's ever been.

Trump made a last-minute announcement to visit New Hampshire, after announcing weeks he would officially kick off his 2024 campaign with a rally this Saturday in South Carolina – which like New Hampshire is an early-voting state. 

"I'm more angry now and I'm more committed now than I ever was," Trump said in New Hampshire, at the state Republican party's annual winter meeting.

Trump, who lost reelection in 2020, also argued that he's leading in early polling in New Hampshire, after having announced his campaign just days after the November 2022 midterm elections. 

"So far ahead in the polls," he said. "One came out this morning. We're way ahead. ... We’re going to win and win very big." Trump vowed.

However, a well-known state Republican insider said Trump winning the New Hampshire GOP presidential primary is far from certain. 

"There’s an openness to a new generation of Republican leaders," Mike Dennehy, a state GOP strategist and operative, told NBC News "That’s not to say that the president could not win. I do not think it’s a foregone conclusion, New Hampshire Republican. ​​He’s going to have to earn it."  

South Carolina, meanwhile, is "an important state," Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington said on John Solomon Reports this week. "It's a winner-takes-all state, an early primary state, and he has been very successful in the state of South Carolina."

At the state capitol on Saturday, Trump touched on major issues such as the U.S. crime rate and controversial education policy. 

“We’re going to end the free rein of violent criminals in Democrat-run cities and keep dangerous repeat offenders locked up in jail where they belong," he said. 

“We’re going to stop the left-wing radical racists and perverts who are trying to indoctrinate our youth," he added, "and we’re going to get their Marxist hands off our children.”

In the leadup to the day's events, national media took note of the impending campaign blitz and the pivotal portents it might bring after today. 

"In the next 48 hours," Time's Philip Elliot wrote this week, "we will get a better sense of whether former President Donald Trump deserves his reputation as the candidate to beat in 2024 or if he’s merely part of the still-forming blob that is the Republican field of White House hopefuls."

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