Douglas Andrews / March 1, 2021

Donald Trump Wows ‘Em at CPAC

The former president didn’t disappoint those who wanted him to hit Joe Biden hard, nor those who want him to run again in 2024.

Those who expected a humbled, gentler, more statesmanlike Donald Trump were no doubt disappointed. But those who expected the former president to come out swinging for the first time since Joe Biden took office got exactly what they wanted.

Yesterday, during a much-anticipated 90-minute speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Trump lit into the many first-month failures of President Biden and relitigated the 2020 presidential election in a way that felt in every respect like a 2024 campaign speech.

Those in attendance were thrilled.

Trump began his speech by interrupting the raucous crowd and its chants of “USA, USA, USA” to ask, “Do you miss me yet?” He then declared the journey that began four years ago “is far from over.”

Trump continued, “Our security, our prosperity, and our very identity as Americans is at stake like perhaps at no other time. So no matter how much the Washington establishment and the powerful special interests may want to silence us, let there be no doubt: We will be victorious, and America will be stronger and greater than ever before.”

As Fox News reports, “Former President Donald Trump on Sunday tore into President Biden on issues ranging from the brewing crisis at the border to foreign policy — while mapping out what he believes is the future of the conservative movement, and pledging not to create a new party. ‘Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,’ Trump said, calling the new administration ‘anti-jobs, [anti-family, anti-borders], anti-energy, anti-women, and anti-science.’”

For Democrats, the chickens had finally come home to roost. American presidents have, historically, refused to criticize those who succeeded them in office. Jimmy Carter, though, broke with this tradition, saying that Ronald Reagan had failed to accept “the awesome responsibilities of the presidency,” calling the foreign policy of George W. Bush “the worst in history,” and calling Trump “a disaster” among other things. Barack Obama pretty much picked up where Carter left off. So it was perhaps altogether fitting that Trump, the counterpuncher, walloped Biden at every turn.

Twelve minutes into his speech, Trump gave the first indication that he’s open to challenging the Democrats again in 2024: “What the Biden administration is doing to push young migrants into the hands of human traffickers and coyotes is dangerous, immoral, and indefensible,” he said. “Biden has failed in his number-one duty as chief executive: enforcing America’s laws. This alone should be reason enough for Democrats to suffer withering losses in the midterms and to lose the White House decisively four years from now. Actually, as you know, they just lost the White House. … But who knows? Who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time.”

Trump focused largely on Biden’s immigration failures, but he also hit him hard for failing to reopen our nation’s schools — a promise that Biden has failed to live up to as he struggles to stand up to the teachers unions.

Trump’s speech was preceded by the CPAC straw poll, which surveys attendees about who they’d like to see on the ballot in the next election. Trump got 55% of the vote in the poll, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis second at 21%. CPAC also polled attendees without Trump in the mix. DeSantis won that poll with 43%, followed by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem with 11%, and Donald Trump Jr. with 8%.

Looking ahead to 2024, Trump put an end to speculation that he’d launch a third party. “I am not starting a new party,” he reiterated. “That was fake news. … Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Let’s start a new party and let’s divide our vote so that you can never win. No, we’re not interested in that.”

He also called for “comprehensive election reform” to help ensure that the Republican candidate in 2024 doesn’t suffer the same fate he did in 2020. “I received almost 1.5 million more votes than all of the Republican House candidates combined,” he said among a litany of other improbable election statistics that the Left has never bothered to address. “So how the hell is it possible that we lost?”

He closed by saying, “With your help, we will take back the House, we will win the Senate, and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be…”

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