After years of teases, it’s official: Donald Trump is running for president.
The businessman, reality TV star, and former Fortune cover boy announced Tuesday that he is running for the 2016 Republican nomination, just four years after he choose not to try to unseat president Obama in 2012, despite his vociferous criticisms of the president and self-professed belief that he would be the Republican most likely to win in a general election.
In his speech Tuesday morning, Trump pointed to failures of the U.S. in the international arena and said he would do better than Obama.
“When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say China, in a trade deal?” he said “They kill us. I beat China all the time.”
Trump’s speech was, fittingly, not a standard presidential announcement. Rather than focusing on broad themes, Trump jumped from issue to issue and outlined specific problems he saw. He veered from trade deals to ISIS to illegal immigration with no transitions, and seemingly no central thesis beyond “Obama bad, Trump good!” Despite this, the assembled crowd screamed its appreciation for Trump multiple times.
“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” he declared at one point.
Finally, after all of that, he announced exactly what the people had gathered for:
“I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again,” he said.
Of great interest will be Trump’s personal finances: he’s expected to reveal documents today showing a personal wealth of around $9 billion, which will surely be scrutinized as the election campaign heats up.
Trump started offering hints leading up to the announcement Tuesday. For instance, he changed his header image on his Twitter account to read “Trump: Make America Great Again.”
In recent years Trump has become a controversial political commentator, appearing frequently on news outlets, especially Fox, to offer scathing criticism of the president. He was an ardent supporter of the “birther” movement, which argues that Barack Obama is not an American citizen. While these tactics endear him to a certain element of the conservative base of the party, Trump will have to offer more than that if he wants any success. In a very crowded Republican primary field, he is more likely to cast himself as the most business-savvy and economically sound candidate.
While this offers some positives for Trump — despite the myriad contenders, there are no other Republican candidates who can make private business enterprise their calling card the way Trump can, and the way Mitt Romney did in 2012 — it also gives competitors in both the primary and, if Trump somehow manages to emerge from the rubble, the general election, a lot of ammunition.
After all, Trump and his companies have filed for bankruptcy several times. While Trump has claimed that this is a strategic use of American law, in a debate it would be easy for opponents to score points by pointing out that if Trump can’t manage his own private business, how is he to be expected to run the business of the American public?