President Donald Trump's State of the Union address was his first campaign speech for a 2020 re-election bid, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNBC on Wednesday.
The president's message before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night was "vintage, strategic Trump," looking for the center, instead of defensive "Twitter Trump," said Scaramucci. "That speech was the lodestar for his re-election."
Trump strategists are already laying the groundwork for 2020, with the president himself rejecting speculation that he might not run. He said in a recent New York Times interview, "I love this job." He also expressed doubt about facing a Republican primary challenge.
Trump on Tuesday night, sounding ever the candidate, called for breaking "decades of political stalemate." He also pushed for progress on border security, infrastructure and trade. There was no mention of the recent, 35-day partial government shutdown, which was the longest on record.
Stacey Abrams — who in Georgia nearly became the nation's first black female governor — blasted Trump over the shutdown in her Democratic rebuttal Tuesday night. Abrams, seen as a possible 2020 Senate hopeful, said, "The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values."
Acknowledging that the shutdown over Trump's border wall demands may turn some voters off, Scaramucci said, "The president knows he has to get to those moderates." But he argued that taking a hard line to fulfill a top 2016 campaign promise fires up the base.
In November, Scaramucci told CNBC that Democrats taking control of the House would mean that Trump will be forced to reach across the aisle and "frame his narrative" for a possible 2020 presidential election run.
Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital, was an advisor to Trump during the 2016 campaign and during the transition. He briefly worked in the White House as communications director in 2017. He was fired after just 10 days on the job after an obscenity-laced interview.