Former President Donald Trump returned to the public stage on Sunday with a nearly two-hour-long speech at a conference among conservatives, railing against the current presidential administration and insisting that the Republican party is “united” despite criticizing members of his party who voted for impeachment.
President Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter … [+]
Concluding the four-day Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Trump opened his remarks by saying his political journey is “far from over” before declaring that he and his supporters “will be victorious” in the impending and “historic struggle for America’s future.”
“The Republican Party is united,” the former president said, insisting he will not start a new party and instead adding: “The only division is between a handful of Washington DC establishment political hacks, and everybody else all over the country.”
Before blasting the current administration for “far left” policies that have led to “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” Trump said he would “fight the onslaught of radical socialism” that leads to communism–something he teased the audience “would hear more about.”
Trump, who some expect might declare his intent to run for office again, even teased a 2024 run after criticizing Biden’s immigration policy: “I may even decide to beat them for a third time,” the former president said, calling for comprehensive election reform multiples times during his speech.
In addition to immigration, Trump focused much of his speech on a call for Biden to reopen schools “immediately,” saying Biden is “cruelly keeping our children locked in their homes” and “cheating the next generation of Americans out of the future they deserve.”
Other policy moves under Biden that Trump railed into included the withdrawal of United Nations sanctions on Iran (that Trump restored in September), rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and ending the travel restrictions placed on mostly Muslim countries.
“The brave Republicans in this room will be at the heart of the effort to oppose the radical Democrats, the fake news media and their toxic cancel culture,” Trump said Sunday. “And I want you to know that I’m going to continue to fight right by your side; we will do what we’ve done right from the beginning, which is to win. We’re not starting another party.”
The decision to have Trump deliver the closing speech at CPAC sowed a division among Republican leaders looking to the party’s future. Some–like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)–have sought to distance the party from the former president, while others, such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) continue to be staunch Trump supporters. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday he would “absolutely” support Trump in another presidential bid if he wins the GOP’s nomination despite blasting the president less than two weeks earlier as “practically and morally responsible” for the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Ahead of his speech, Trump won a straw poll among CPAC attendees asking who should be the Republican’s nominee in the next election, garnering 55% support.
After challenging the 2020 election results for more than half an hour, Trump called out by name all the Republicans who voted in favor of convicting him during his second impeachment trial. “The RINOs will destroy the Republican party,” he said, referencing the acronym for “Republicans in name only”–a pejorative used to criticize more-moderate members of the party.
“Over the last four years, we lost the House… the Senate and the presidency,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)–one of the seven Republican Senators who voted to convict Trump earlier this month for inciting insurrection–told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning. “If we idolize one person, we will lose.”
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I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism