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Robin Smith / February 27, 2017

CPAC and Trump, Then and Now

He skipped it last year, but was the triumphant leader this year.

Last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) featured threats of a walk out led by a guy wearing “revolutionary-era garb” who declared that candidate Donald Trump wanted to be “seen as a potentate” and “wants glory” — don’t choke on that irony — along with predictions that the cancellation would hurt the GOP presidential contender. The talking points around that CPAC, held immediately following “Super Tuesday” with other state primaries ahead, were not favorable for The Donald last year.

Twelve months later, President Donald Trump was welcomed to CPAC as a triumphant leader who upset not just the coronation of Hillary Clinton and all her Foundation’s tentacles of corruption, but also the barely right of center GOP establishment that exists as just a shade of gray in the Beltway incumbency, instead of a principled elected group in conservative policy.

Looking in the political rearview mirror, Trump had it right when he declined a Saturday morning speaking slot at last year’s conservative confab. He excused himself to attend rallies in Wichita and Orlando. The Kansas primary was set for the Saturday falling during the CPAC conference with Florida’s electoral value a priority.

Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC, declared last March, “I think this is a whiff. I think it’s a mistake. It’s a missed opportunity.”

This year, in sharp contrast, Schlapp heralded, “The conservative movement has elected a Republican president.”

Trump didn’t just win, as we know, an upset. Trump expanded the Republican Party to include not just the schooled-to-rule polished resumé types and the conservative base whose heart is rooted in the love of their country’s founding principles, but now the working class who just want someone to care about their concerns.

Remember, Trump’s campaign personified the anger and deep frustrations of both Republicans and working Americans. It sometimes seems the “fair” in global trade agreements was included for marketing purposes, just not for the reality of working Americans. The cost of health insurance exploded as government-defined and controlled insurance distorted a major sector of American commerce. The lawful citizen was incredulous at the lawlessness found in the lack of enforcement of immigration laws and the anti-law enforcement sentiment seeded and cultivated for political gain.

This year, Trump stood before a cheering crowd, not because of his unmatched rhetoric and smooth orations, but because candidate Trump said what Americans were thinking without fear of the politically correct -isms or the concubines of the DNC known as the national media. Even more importantly, President Trump is already delivering on substance. He’s making a material impact through his agenda.

Within hours of his Oath of Office on Inauguration Day, Trump signed an executive order (EO) that instructed government agencies to “ease the burden” of ObamaCare, a first step to repeal and to “prepare to afford the states more flexibility and control to create a more free and open health care market.” Trump issued a freeze on both federal regulations that had not been finalized and a temporary hiring moratorium of non-military, federal employees.

Trump exited the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal Obama made with government-owned companies of China and communist Vietnam where fairness escapes their language. Trump signed a memorandum re-establishing a prohibition of U.S. tax dollars spent for abortion internationally, known as the Mexico City policy, first launched by President Ronald Reagan.

Trump issued an EO to complete the Dakota Access and resume the Keystone XL oil pipeline construction from Canada.

Ending almost two decades of promises to enforce immigration law, Trump’s EO on January 25th directed federal agencies to prepare for “immediate construction” of a wall on America’s southern border — a wall that Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton once supported. Further, he signed an order that halts any federal money to “sanctuary cities” that refuse cooperation or obstruct efforts by federal agencies to apprehend criminal aliens for the purpose of federal prosecution.

The national media won’t let anyone forget the EO issuing a 120-day moratorium on travel from seven countries identified by the Obama administration as threats due to their relationship to terrorism. While a replacement for this policy is expected any day, again Trump was making good on a campaign promise to pause the visa program to understand what was working and the morass of what wasn’t.

Finally, the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, currently serving the federal appellate court, to replace constitutional originalist Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court certainly fulfilled the top priority of so very many Christian conservative voters. With the sound nomination of Gorsuch, whom even Democrats have supported, the integrity of the Law of the Land is guarded from activists in robes.

Trump certainly has made missteps on form and fashion, but on function, he’s been pumping out policies that can work.

But key items remain, such as the repeal/replace of ObamaCare, promised tax reforms, an infrastructure bill and an infusion of funding to a rundown military. These are monumental tasks that have a little discussed road block ahead — the March 15 expiration of the current debt ceiling deal made by Congress and Obama.

Trump has acknowledged “the mess” of the government’s finances that he’s inherited. Now, let’s see if the members of Congress holding the power of the purse abandon their big-spending ways. Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday night will likely revisit his promises kept and the steep hill ahead.

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