Somehow Donald Trump manages to generate suspense even for a moment so widely anticipated.
For hours, the hundreds of invited guests had waited in the vast ballroom of his Mar-a-Lago resort.
At 9pm, with uncharacteristic punctuality, the former president emerged with his pitch to be the next one.
The entrance music was borrowed from Les Miserables; an anthem of revolution as he greeted a sea of his most loyal supporters.
It was the great and the good, as they’d see themselves, of the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement.
He spoke for over an hour, presenting a vision of his America pitted against today’s America.
It was his perceived achievements against Mr Biden’s real challenges.
US Midterms results tracker – live
He dismissed the many legal investigations against him, not least the FBI investigation into top secret presidential documents found in his resort.
“I’m a victim…” he said.
And the fact that his candidates were so often not the chosen ones in last week’s midterms? Well, that’s fake news, he said.
And then came the moment they’d been waiting for.
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Trump announces candidacy for 2024 Outside the gates of his palatial resort, the fans are the reason he thinks he is still the future.
Watching on phones, the foot soldiers of the Trumpism movement cheered as his announcement came.
“USA, USA, USA…” one man screamed.
It’s only the most dedicated here, of course, but it is reflective of a movement which so often feels like it’s about more than just politics. It stretches across the country and it cuts into society.
The Republican Party establishment has tried many times to cut Mr Trump loose.
After the 6 January insurrection, the Senate and House Republican leaders Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative Kevin McCarthy tried to pull the party away from Mr Trump.
The enduring baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen by Mr Biden caused plenty of unease in the party.
Why US midterms are a very unreliable way of predicting the next president
Could Florida governor thwart Donald Trump’s fresh run for the White House?
But again and again, they’ve been drawn back to Mr Trump because they know that a critical mass of Republican voters continue to form the reality-denying force behind the party.
They are supporters who are not worried about the Capitol insurrection or that it was inspired by Mr Trump. They are not bothered either that their leader tried to steal a fair election.
The Republican establishment in Washington DC knows that Mr Trump’s extensive support base has a loyalty which can’t simply be switched off or directed elsewhere.
Image: Supporters stand and cheer for Trump as he announces that he is running for president The unquestionably poor performance by the Republicans in the midterm elections last week was another moment to try to pull away from Donald Trump.
His candidates did badly compared to those he did not endorse in an election where the party out of power should have done far better.
Mr Trump has made the first move; the first Republican to announce his candidacy for president.
Prepare now for the mother of all internal power struggles.
Former Vice-President Mike Pence, Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin, outgoing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan are all likely to run.
And the favourite to run – Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Ron versus Don will surely be the fiercest fight.
All of them will attempt to mirror a form of Trumpism, a political movement which endures beyond all establishment expectation.