Donald Trump's 2020 run: What you need to know | Skimm2020 | theSkimm
Donald Trump

Editor's note: This article was updated on Feb 12, 2020.

The Who

America’s president would like to keep his job.

The Resume

He’s been trying to Keep America Great since 2017. But before that: he was a real estate mogul, serving as chairman and president of the Trump Organization (see: his Trump Towers around the world). You also might know his catchphrase “you’re fired” from when he hosted “The Apprentice” in the ‘00s. He co-wrote a few books, like “The Art of the Deal,” and created Trump University...but that didn’t turn out so well. Plus he’s got a couple of TV and movie cameos on his IMDB page.

The Elephant in the Room

Let’s start with pre-White House. He’s been accused of shady business tactics, like dodging millions in taxes and racially discriminating against tenants. And got heat for questioning whether former President Obama was born in the US. During the 2016 campaign, a video came out of him saying it’s OK to grab women “by the p*ssy.” Since then, more than a dozen women have accused him of sexual misconduct, from inappropriate touching to sexual assault. He’s denied the allegations.

Since taking office, he’s been in hot water for some controversial policies, like his “zero tolerance” policy and travel ban from some Muslim-majoirty countries. Also, for seeming to give Turkey the green light to target Kurdish allies in Syria. He’s also called the media the “enemy of the people.” The Mueller investigation did not find evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy. But it did list 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice.

And then there’s impeachment. Trump is the third-ever US president to be impeached. Last year, Trump seemingly pushed Ukraine’s president to announce investigations, including into his political rival and former VP Joe Biden. He did this while his admin withheld nearly $400 million in aid. The Democratic-led House voted almost entirely along party lines to impeach Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But this year, the Republican-led Senate acquitted him, also mostly along party lines. Now, Trump is the first-ever US president to run for re-election after being impeached.

The Priorities

Trump hasn’t been super specific about his second-term priorities. But with record-breaking jobs numbers and the US stock market crushing it, the economy has been a source of pride throughout Trump’s first term. Also he might continue to push his plans for new trade deals. So far he’s renegotiated one with Canada and Mexico. And after launching a trade war with China, his admin is in the process of re-doing trade terms with the country. 

And of course, immigration. In the 2016 race, Trump campaigned on building a US-Mexico border wall. He continues to try to restrict and reform both legal and illegal forms of immigration – pushing to have more merit-based immigration and restrict family and low-income immigration.

The 2020 Policies

On abortion…he’s against abortions except in three instances: rape, incest, and if the mother’s life is at risk. And his administration implemented rules that would make it easier for healthcare workers to refuse to perform abortions and other services if they violate their religious or moral beliefs.

On climate change…he’s moved to end the Obama admin’s Clean Power Plan and weakened regulations on auto and methane emissions and water pollution. He’s also got a plan underway to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal by November.

On the economy…one thing he’s especially proud of is the Republican tax plan, which was the biggest tax rewrite in decades. And during his first term, the unemployment rate has dropped to a 50-year low. He’s also made moves that he says will help keep US jobs at home (see: steel and aluminum tariffs, ditching the TPP). Expect this to be a big talking point on the campaign trail.

On education…he’s in favor of school vouchers, which give students public funds to go to non-public schools (think: private or charter). He also wants to fix the student loan crisis by doing two things. One: capping the amount of student loan debt students and parents can take on. Two: reducing the number of repayment plans available to them.

On guns...he’s gone back and forth on limiting the right to bear arms. Back in 2018, he banned bump stocks, which can make semi-automatic weapons fire more quickly. He wants more states to adopt red flag laws, which allow courts to temporarily take away guns from potentially dangerous people. He’s also called for giving teachers guns to control school shootings.

On health care…he hasn’t repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act, like he said he would on the 2016 campaign trail. But has pushed to lower prescription drug prices and have more transparency in drug pricing. Despite rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, he’s promised to protect people with pre-existing conditions. And doesn’t plan to touch Medicare. But he also doesn’t want a “socialist takeover” of the US’s health care system – and has made it clear he doesn’t support proposals from some Democratic candidates to scrap private insurance and institute Medicare for All.

On immigration…he still hasn’t gotten his wall, but he’s still trying to get more funding for border security, which would go to things like aid for unaccompanied minors. He’s also tried to end asylum protections for most migrants who arrive at the US-Mexico border.

On national security...the House impeached the president on national security grounds over withholding aid to Ukraine. So there’s that. He’s called Afghanistan and Iraq “endless” foreign wars and pledged to get the US out ASAP. He’s got a reputation for trying to work things out with adversaries, like North Korea and the Taliban. In 2018, he pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying it didn’t do enough to combat the nuclear and ballistic threat from Iran. And last year, he removed troops from northeastern Syria as Turkey announced it would be launching an operation against US-backed Kurds in the country.

On social justice…in 2018, he signed a criminal justice reform bill that did things like lower certain mandatory minimum sentences and ensure that inmates are within 500 miles of family. He also made headlines for commuting the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense. But he’s been accused of restricting rights for LGBTQ+ Americans, and has barred most transgender Americans from serving in the military.


Trump’s overall approval ratings are pretty low compared to other presidents. But he’s still popular with Republican voters. And the last time a president wasn’t reelected for a second term was in 1992.

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