orlando florida Former President Donald Trump sounded every bit a White House contender during an address to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference when he attacked President Joe Biden and vowed to restore the Republican Party to power in November and 2024 in Washington .
“The socialists, globalists, marxists and communists attacking our civilization have no idea of the sleeping giant they woke up,” Trump said Saturday night. “But they’re going to find out the hard way, starting November 8, and then again, even more so in November 2024, they’re going to find out like never before.” We did it twice and we will do it again. We will repeat it a third time.”
Trump broadcast the litany of his rhetorical greatest hits over the course of 90 minutes before a noisy and enthusiastic hotel ballroom filled with some 6,000 conservative activists who showered their political hero with chants of “USA!” and “Four more years!”
The former president made unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was stolen, complained about Senate Chief Republican Mitch McConnell, ranted about the Russia probe that dogged his early years in office, and claimed the United States was becoming a global one Laughed at since leaving the White House, the national press corps accused “fake news” of colluding with Democrats and vowed to end construction of the wall along the southern border, which the Biden administration has stopped.
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But amid this and other swagger, gunshots and taunts typical of a Trump rally speech, the former president devoted big bucks to Republican bids to win majorities in Congress in the 2022 midterm elections and retake the White House two years later Attention. Trump described the upcoming campaigns as a Republican effort with all hands on deck. But crucially, the 45th President put himself first and in charge – of both the party’s agenda and its political activities, only stopping to declare himself the 2024 candidate.
“The far left has sought to replace American democracy with awakened tyranny,” Trump said. “Our mission in 2022 and 2024 is to take on this radical and power-hungry ruling class and defeat them in the elections.”
Several Republicans are eyeing a 2024 bid, and many traveled to central Florida this weekend to speak at CPAC and mingle with conservative activists who could be valuable to their presidential aspirations. But a third straight bid from Trump at the White House could swamp the GOP primary field – and the former president’s remarks to the gathering here appeared to be sending the strongest signal yet that the campaign is near.
Meanwhile, Trump couldn’t bring himself to condemn Vladimir Putin in his first speech – one that was eagerly awaited at home and abroad – as the Russian strongman embarked on an invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The former president expressed his sympathy for Kiev and praised the courage of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky, who has rejected offers to evacuate him amid the brutal and unprovoked Russian attack. Trump even offered that he would have persuaded Putin to stay out of Ukraine, heavily armed him if necessary, and succeeded where Biden would have failed.
But unlike the vast majority of prominent conservatives who have taken the main stage of CPAC since Thursday — among them alumni of the Trump administration and supporters of the former president — Trump has stopped directly criticizing Putin. Instead, just as he did during his tenure at the White House, the former president praised the Russian strongman for being a competent and capable leader and defended comments he praised days earlier.
And, of course, Trump found a way to tie the war to his claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
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“We pray for the proud people of Ukraine; God bless them all. They are brave indeed,” Trump said. “This terrible catastrophe would never have happened if our election had not been rigged and if I had been President.”
“I have no doubt that President Putin made his decision to ruthlessly attack Ukraine only after witnessing the pathetic [United States military] withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Trump added. “Yesterday, reporters asked me if I thought President Putin was smart. I said, ‘Of course he’s smart.’ … “The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course he is smart. But the real problem is that our leaders are stupid.”