The crowd loves Donald Trump at CPAC, and with cell phones out, shooting the stage, shooting each other, shooting selfies, the audience of conservatives, who broke into chants of "USA" before Trump began to speak to the "proud patriots here today."
As the midterm elections for Congress loom in November, Trump praised those in the conservative movement who are running to take over leadership positions in Congress. As to what that new Congress should do, Trump gave a few pointers as to what they should campaign on, and what they should do once their seats were won and they took office.
As to the crowd, Trump said these people "are the beating heart of the conservative movement," as well as the loyal defenders of our heritage, our culture, our Constitution, our God given rights. You never stop fighting for America," he said, "and I will never stop fighting for you."
Trump joked with the crowd, which they've come to expect from the man who never stopped campaigning since he left office in January 2021, and he thanked those supporters who have stood by him, including the Schlapp family, his former White House doctor Ronny Jackson, and Congressmen Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
At the mention of these names, and others that Trump has endorsed and supported, the audience roared their approval. Tudor Dixon, running for governor in Michigan, also garnered a big round of applause.
The way Trump talks to his audience is personable, as though he's speaking to friends rather than as leader speaks to constituents. Trump's supporters feel that they know him personally, in part because of the casual way he addresses them, but also because he is available to be heard, at rallies, at events and conferences. His supporters and fans go out to see him wherever he lands and takes up a stage to address a crowd.
"She's an incredible woman," Trump said of Kari Lake, saying that Doug Ducey, the outgoing governor of Arizona, is a "RINO who didn't do the job." He promised his support through rallies in the state during the final few months of the campaign.
Ric Grenell and Kash Patel, both former members of the Trump administration, as well as Jay Aiba and Glenn Beck got shout outs for their support and the work they've done.
CPAC's straw poll this year shows another win for Trump this year, and Trump said it "was an honor," and when he heard he'd received a 99 percent approval rating, he lamented that it wasn't 100 percent. This, too, was part of the engaging way that Trump handles his supporters, and what keeps him at the top of the GOP constituency.
"The Hispanic people are incredible," he said. "They have really embraced the Republican Party. I say actually embraced me," he joked.
"Now there's a great feeling of unity," he said of the straw poll, and the 99 percent. "I think we have to do what we have to do to take our nation back. Our country is being destroyed from the inside out. America is on the edge of an abyss, and our movement is the only force on Earth that can save it."
"I can say that this movement right here, what we do in the next few months and the never few years will determine whether American civilization will collapse or fail or whether it will try and thrive, frankly, like never before.
"This is no time for complacency. We cannot be complacent. We have to seize this opportunity to deal with the radical left socialist fascists. And we have to hit them very, very hard and have a crippling defeat, because our country cannot take it," he said.
Trump lambasted globalism, as well, saying "if we do this not only will we fire Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi—What was she doing?" He asked, saying that Pelosi "played right into their hands, because now they have an excuse to do whatever they want to do."
Under his leadership, Trump said, Pelosi never would have gone to Taiwan and courted the wrath of the Chinese Communist Party. Pelosi recently brought a congressional delegation to Taiwan, which was brushed off by the White House as not their call. China swiftly launched a show of force over Taiwan.
For Trump, the current administration took what he accomplished in his single-term presidency and destroyed it. They've replaced economic prosperity with tax hikes, inflation, and insane gas prices. Under Trump, he said, the stock market rebounded after the pandemic, and now, under Biden, has suffered due to his leadership failures.
The tax increase is hidden within the administration's current Inflation Reduction Act, which is that in name only and provides for tax increases for everyone who makes over $30,000 per year. Biden has repeatedly promised to not raise taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 per year.
"I told the old, broken crow Mitch McConnell that this was going to happen," Trump said, saying that McConnell should not have approved spending that Biden and his Democrats pushed through, that created more spending for "green new deal" projects and policies.
McConnell, he said, told him that the Democrats wouldn't come back for more. Now, of course, they have, as the Inflation Reduction Act contains incentives and breaks for families that move to sustainable energy, install solar panels, and buy electric vehicles.
Trump slammed West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has worked with Republicans to do the work his constituents want for his state, but still rides along with his own party on green spending, and notably on the Inflation Reduction Act.
"After the pandemic we handed the Democrats the fastest economic recovery ever recorded in the history of our country," he said, "they've turned that into two straight quarters of negative economic growth, also known, despite the protestations to the contrary, as a recession."
The Biden White House undertook to change the definition of recession in the lead up to the numbers drop showing two straight quarters of GDP declines. Instead, Biden said that the definition should be tied to unemployment numbers.
As to those numbers, Trump said that there's currently the "lowest labor force participation." His reasoning is that, after people drop off the unemployment rolls, those people are not even counted.
"Just hope that the recession doesn't turn into a depression," he said.
Trump highlighted those policies of his that he is particularly proud of, including the work done at the border, the rebuilding of US armaments, cooperation with Mexico, and the creation of new military agency Space Force, calling it "based force."
The conservative crowd revels in the stories Trump regales them with, including negotiations with Mexico to get their help to secure the border while the border wall was being built. Trump ran his campaign in 2016 on a promise of securing the border with Mexico and building a wall, and the Biden administration put a stop to it upon entering office. Since then, they've found that there is a need for that wall, and to fill gaps in the wall they left unfinished, with sprawling debris along that border line.
The crowd cheered wildly when Trump spoke of the election having been "stolen," and erupted further when he hinted that he'd be running again for a second, non-consecutive term. He said that before that, the US needs "an earth shattering win in 2022."
Increased shootings in cities, murders, and cashless bail are at fault, he said, for the problems of our cities and our nation. "Burglars are stalking people back to their homes," he said of crime in California.
"This has to stop and it has to stop now," Trump said.
The GOP needs to "campaign on a clear pledge that if they are given power, they're going to fight with everything they have to shut down the border, stop the crime rave, and be in a place to hold the fight," Trump said.
The first job, he said "will be to restore public safety," and that "because of the radical left's merciless crusade to dismantle law enforcement in America, our country is now a cesspool like it's never been before." The Congress, he said, should create more funding to hire police.
He backed the policy of "stop and frisk," and pumped 2A, saying "instead of taking fund away from law-abiding Americans, let's take them away from violent criminals."
Trump spoke of countries that have death penalties for drug dealers, noting that those nations do not have the kinds of drug problems as the US, that creates "blue ribbon committees," instead.
"You need the death penalty for drug dealing, drugs will go down immediately by 50 percent and probably more. But you have to mean it, you have to mean it," Trump said, noting that this was likely not a popular opinion. His view also is that the president should work harder to secure the safety of cities.
During the pandemic, Biden routinely said that his job was to keep America "safe," but that began and ended with medical considerations about Covid alone. Trump believes the National Guard should be sent into cities where lawlessness is persistent, specifically mentioning Portland, Ore., saying it's "a burned out hulk."
"We have to reclaim our cities," he said. "We have to relocate the homeless until they can get their lives back and then they can come back to where they want to be," he said.
"Every city that's run by Democrats, so sad," he said.
Trump's supporters share the concerns he's mentioned, from the border to decimation of cities to drug abuse to crime.
"We have to stop the invasion at our southern border," he said. It's like a "military force boring in." Illegal immigrants, some of whom have been deported only to make their way back across the porous border, have committed horrific crimes. He called these criminals "animals," saying that there's no need for it, if there was a secure border people would not be losing their lives to these criminals.
Trump blasted the Biden administration for defending Ukraine's border but leaving the US border a shambles. He wants illegal immigrants to be detained and returned to "the place from which you came" or imprisoned. And it's not just Biden, he said, but the Obama administration that did the nation of disservice in this capacity.
Trump's policies are notable in that he did not continue to do things as they have been done. He recounted a story about trying to return illegal immigrant gang members to their home nations only to have nations like Guatemala refuse to take them. In response, Trump said he'd cut their funding if they didn't take their nationals back. The nations caved and took the gang members back, Trump said.
"Kari's gonna stop them at the border," Trump said, as a cheer of "Kari" sprang up briefly.
Some of Trump's classic lines made a splash, as well, such as "drain the swamp," which brought the crowd to their feet.
Trump called to abolish the Department of Education, and to keep women's sports for women alone. He brought college swimmer Riley Gaines up on stage, and she spoke to the crowd saying "keep female sports female." He compared himself to her, joking that she'd never be able to beat him in swimming.
Critical race and gender theory came under fire from the 45th president, though Biden has pressed for these things across all federal agencies and in all schools across the country, even telling parents to "affirm" their kids. Trump, instead, promised to uphold and defend parental rights. These issues have mobilized parents, and Trump will be able to capitalize on that.
Trump effortlessly hits every key issue that has been a rallying cry for conservatives, from energy independence, Covid restrictions, education problems, crime increases, inflation, and the need for a robust, America First policy.
"School prayer is banned but drag shows are allowed," Trump said. "You can't teach the Bible but you can teach children that America is evil and that men are able to get pregnant."
The people love Trump because they believe that his power is their power, he gives them a sense that they are a force to be reckoned with, a unified group of people with strength, voice, and dignity. Instead of making them feel beaten down and hopeless, he gives them a belief that they are capable and strong. He touted Judeo-Christian values, which have been under persistent attack in the US under a far-left academia and institutionalized oppression theory.
"We have to restore one standard of justice in America," Trump said, stating that law enforcement has been "weaponized" against political opponents. Trump took aim at those who are trying to implicate him in crimes surrounding January 6, noting that there was no way he would have tried to tackle a Secret Service agent, and that the Secret Service has debunked those claims as well.
"If we do all this, if we stop the crime, secure the border, save the economy, defend our culture, and take back our democracy, then America First conservatives will be rewarded with a governing majority that will transform American politics forever," Trump said.
"The radical left will be banished into political oblivion. We will save our freedom, we will save our children, and we will save our country. But the task will not be easy," he said.
"Together we are standing up to some of the most menacing forces, entrenched interests, and vicious opponents, our people, our country, has ever seen," he said.
He said all the Democrats want is for him to go away, to hide in the basement, and that he won't because he loves the people of the country too much. "I'm not doing this for me," he said, but fears that if he doesn't lead, the nation will fall to "corrupt radicals."
"We must never forget that this nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you," Trump said to wild applause.
"This is your home, this is your heritage, this your country that your American ancestors won with their own courage, defended with their own blood, and built with their own hands," he said.
At every turn, at every moment, the crowd was with him. Whether he was speaking about the election, telling jokes, praising America, or blasting political opponents, his supporters were enraptured under the gaze of his attention. They want what he wants, they want him to lead, they want him to boost them up and bringing the country up to one they can be proud to be a part of, and will be proud to have them in it.
The divisions between left and right, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, are on display when Trump speaks, because he makes that division stark and sharp. He identifies opponents, and gives supporters promises that they believe in, "so long as we do not lose our spirit, our movement will not be defeated."
He called the MAGA movement the "greatest one in the history of the country," and maybe "in the history of the world"
"We will make America powerful again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again, and we will make America great again," Trump said in conclusion.
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