For about 90 minutes, Trump berated “high profile Republicans,” “RINOs,” and other Republicans who criticized him. Banned from Twitter, he said big tech companies “should face major sanctions whenever they silence conservative voices.” And in a broad criticism of Biden’s first month in office, he turned on the Democratic president for his handling of everything from the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine to immigration, education and protecting transgender people.
“None of us imagined how bad they would be and how far they would go,” Trump said, calling the Biden administration “anti-jobs, anti-family, anti-border, anti-energy, anti-women and anti-science. “
“In just a month, we went from ‘America first’ to ‘America last’,” Trump said.
His own accomplishments, the twice-impeached president said, were superior in both government and politics. Trump credited himself with the success of his party’s down vote in November, despite many Republicans down in their districts.
He predicted that the Democratic Party would suffer “empty losses” in the midterm elections and that in four years “a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House.”
He added: “And I wonder who it will be?”
If Trump teases another run in 2024, however, he is far from completing his last loss. In an extended riff on the November election, he perpetuated the false claim – rejected by election experts and administrators and by courts across the country – that the election was stolen.
When he said, “This election was rigged,” the crowd chanted, “You won!”
Trump’s comparison of his own presidency to that of Biden belied his successor’s relatively high public approval ratings – and Trump’s bad ones. But CPAC is an accommodating crowd.
In CPAC’s annual presidential poll released shortly before Trump spoke, 95% of conference attendees said the GOP should continue with Trump’s political issues and ideas, and 68% of attendees said that Trump is expected to run again in 2024.
In a crowded field of potential top contenders, Trump crushed the ground with 55% support, followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with 21%. All other GOP politicians surveyed recorded single digits.
Even before Sunday, Trump was looming in the 2022 midterm election and – whether he runs again or not – in the 2024 presidential primary. He is preparing to host a super PAC, and on Friday he has endorsed Max Miller, a former White House aide. , in his campaign to topple Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, one of 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment.
Trump aides had urged him before speaking on Sunday to focus his anger on Biden and the Democratic Party, while limiting references to his differences with Republican lawmakers who criticized him. Instead, he blistered by name the Republicans who supported his second arraignment, including “forums” like the senses. Mitt Romney and “Little Ben Sasse” and the “warmonger” Rep. Liz Cheney from Wyoming.
“Get rid of all of them,” Trump said.
Still, Trump described the dispute within the Republican Party as limited: “The only divide is between a handful of establishment political hacks in Washington, DC and everyone across the country,” he said. said, adding: “I think we have unity.”
Trump also ruled out creating a third party, calling an idea he had “fake news” once floated itself.
Trump’s re-emergence in public life has never been in doubt for the celebrity-turned-president. But it was yet another break with tradition for Trump, as presidents leaving office typically retire from partisan politics for a period of several months immediately thereafter.
Banned from Twitter and relegated from the White House, the former president reveled in the praise lavished on him at CPAC.
Taking the stage at CPAC, he said, “Do you miss me again?”
The audience burst out, sometimes chanted: “USA! USA !. ”Later he erupted into a sustained call of“ We love you! We love you! ”
It was a fitting finale to an event that included a golden statue of Trump and a list of Republicans all promoting him. Senator Ted Cruz, himself a potential 2024 presidential candidate, told the conference that “Donald J. Trump is not going anywhere.” Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser in the White House, announced Trump’s “hugely consistent” presidency and called him “the boss.” And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis swore, “We can’t, we won’t, go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yore.”
The straw poll was in line with the sentiment of the wider Republican electorate, a majority of which, 53%, would choose Trump over any other Republican if the 2024 primary were held today. Rep. Jim Jordan said on Sunday that he hopes Trump will run again in 2024 and: “If he does, he will win.”