New York, Jan 10 : Staring down an impending impeachment trial, US President Donald Trump has waded into his first campaign election rally of 2020 by giving us a sneak peek of how he was transforming the terms on which the election race will be fought.
Spotlighting a dangerous moment in his presidency, Trump boasted in Ohio on Thursday night how he served up "American justice" with a drone strike against a "total monster", Iran's military general Qasem Soleimani.
Ohio accounts for 18 electoral votes in the presidential sweepstakes.
Almost overnight, Trump has inserted war and foreign policy into a presidential race that typically concerns itself with boilerplate issues: immigration, economy, healthcare and taxes.
Trump's latest remarks in Ohio come the same day when the US, Canadian and British governments said that it was "highly likely" that Iran, while it retaliated with ballistic missiles against the US, mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane which killed all 176 people on board.
At least 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians died in the crash.
Even as news of the collateral damage from the US-Iran tensions was sinking in and neighbouring country Canada flies its flag at half mast to mourn its dead, the Trump campaign is dialling it up.
The Trump-led strike on the "most dangerous terrorist in the world", with "no American casualties" is what "leadership looks like", Vice President Mike Pence said as he marked attendance on the Trump campaign trail.
Trump pulled back this week from the brink of war with Iran and has inserted foreign policy front and centre into the 2020 election race, forcing opponents to respond in real time, 10 months before Americans choose their next President.
In 2016, Trump had campaigned, among other things, on a promise to end US entanglement in "endless wars".
The 2004 election came after George W. Bush ordered the Iraq invasion. In 2008, Barack Obama and John McCain battled against the backdrop of voter fatigue from long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now Trump was s playing the Soleimani killing as his ability to achieve closure.
Egged on by his cheering base on Thursday, Trump tore into his opponents "crazy Bernie", "cCrazy Nancy" and "pencil neck" Adam Schiff shortly after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives okayed a resolution saying the President must seek approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran.
"We got a call. We heard where he was. He knew the way he was getting there. We didn't have time to call up Nancy, who isn't operating with a full deck", Trump said by way of explanation for why he did not inform Congress before launching the January 3 drone strike on Soleimani.
While all of Trump's opponents on the Democratic side continue to question his ability to make solid decisions on national security, Trump ordered Soleimani's killing, said US soldiers were safe, delivered a speech after the strike, showing a rare dose of restraint and both sides have backed down, for now.
All this has happened within a few weeks of Trump being impeached while a Senate impeachment trial is pending.
With the Soleimani killing, Trump has brought a faraway sparring topic into real time, high stakes politics. Speaking in Ohio, Trump said he thinks he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
Meanwhile in Canada, one of those grieving for the dead told a reporter: "One man, and only one, is responsible for those deaths. And he will never face consequences for them." (Nikhila Natarajan can be contacted at email@example.com)