Trump Dominates at CPAC
The annual CPAC conference is tailor-made for Donald Trump, and he didn’t disappoint.
Nikki Haley deserves credit for showing up.
In other news, Donald Trump curb-stomped the competition in the annual CPAC Straw Poll, pulling in the support of 62% of the more than 2,000 young conference attendees who voted, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drew 20%, 75-year-old Michigan-based auto entrepreneur Perry Johnson drew 5%, and Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Trump UN ambassador, drew just 3%. Like we said: credit for showing up.
Trump himself didn’t show up to CPAC in 2016, but it’s been his show ever since. And this year’s vote seems especially interesting — and resounding — in light of two factors: These are young Republican activists, and Haley has consistently and repeatedly said that it’s time for “a new generation” of Republican leadership.
The clear message from CPAC attendees: Not so fast.
The results of the CPAC straw poll seem to align with a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll of Republican voters, which showed Trump leading DeSantis 47% to 39%. This is both significant and remarkable because it’s a net swing of 12 points in Trump’s direction since the same poll a month earlier had DeSantis leading Trump 45% to 41%. In fact, DeSantis had led Trump in this same poll for three straight months.
And lest you think DeSantis is bleeding support as additional candidates like Haley have entered the fray, this poll was a head-to-head, mano a mano matchup. Notably, when the other candidates are included, Trump’s number decreases only two points, while DeSantis’s drops 10 points, 45% to 29%.
Interestingly, Kari Lake, the 2022 Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee, drew the most CPAC straw poll support for vice presidential candidate with 20% to DeSantis’s 14% – again confirming that this conference is dominated by young Trump supporters.
So, just what did DeSantis do during the past month to erode his support among Republicans? Near as we can tell, nothing. In fact, just the opposite. Indeed, DeSantis has continued to distinguish himself as a smart, tough, fearless, and hugely popular governor of the state than has long been the Republican Party’s most essential electoral prize.
DeSantis, in fact, didn’t speak at this year’s CPAC. (Nor did former Vice President Mike Pence.) Instead, as Fox News reports: “The Florida governor on Thursday night headlined the first evening of a three-day conference in Palm Beach, Florida, hosted by the politically active fiscal conservative group the Club for Growth, which drew roughly 120 of the top donors in the GOP. On Friday DeSantis was at political and donor events in Texas before heading to California over the weekend.”
And what has Trump done to improve his visibility? For one, he went to East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a catastrophic train derailment, where his visit and his delivery of aid to the townspeople there forced Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to finally pay a visit himself. Three weeks after the fact.
Beyond that, the former president has been unbowed and resolute in the face of incessant attacks, legal and otherwise, from the Trump-deranged Biden administration and its deeply disgraceful attorney general, Merrick Garland, who seems to think that our nation ought to have two tiers of justice: one for Democrats, and one for their political enemies.
Suffice it to say that Trump’s apparent staying power among Republicans is unique. Normally, when a guy loses the presidency, he gets kicked to the curb. Trump, as decrepit and defensive old Joe Biden is fond of telling us, lost by seven million votes. (Actually, Trump lost by 43,000 mail-ballot-harvested votes in three states — Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin — and only then because the Democrats and their leftist brethren in Big Tech and the Department of Justice interfered. But who’s counting?)
As for the goings-on at CPAC, Trump, Haley, and others gave stirring speeches designed to appeal to those in attendance.
Haley gave a solid right hand to those who think America’s time has passed, as well as those who think a woman of 51 is past her prime, as CNN’s pathetic 57-year-old Don Lemon told his dozens of viewers recently. “China thinks the American era has passed. So do all our enemies,” Haley said. “But they’re wrong. America is not past our prime. It’s just that our politicians are past theirs. … Now Don Lemon didn’t seem to like that. He claimed I’m not in my prime. … I’m 51. That’s younger than Don Lemon. It’s also younger than Hunter Biden. And it’s 30 years younger than Joe Biden.”
Then there was Trump. “We are going to complete the mission,” Trump said in his conference-closing speech. “We are going to see this battle through to ultimate victory. We are going to make America great again.”
Americans, he said, would be put first “every single time, every single day,” as they were during his presidency.
If there were any doubt about Trump’s desire to finish what he started, he put it to rest at CPAC: “I am your warrior, I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution,” he said. “I will totally obliterate the deep state.”
As for our nation’s current president, he still hasn’t said whether he’s running for reelection, but, to no one’s surprise, only 30% of likely voters think he’ll be physically and mentally up for the job in 2024. Also to no one’s surprise, Trump isn’t plagued by these same considerations of physical or mental strength. That’s because while Trump is only four years younger than Biden, the gap between the two men in terms of vigor and cognition is enormous.
All this said, the 2024 campaign has barely kicked off and is still a political lifetime away.
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