TIPPINSIGHTS EDITORIAL BOARD, TIPP Insights
“On Saturday, each CPAC daytime speaker, including favorites like media personality Glenn Beck and Republican nominee for Michigan governor Tudor Dixon, built up audience expectations about the evening’s highlight-an address by Donald J. Trump. And the 45th U.S. president did not disappoint, repeatedly bringing the crowd to its feet.
Security lines monitored by the Secret Service started at 8 a.m. When the huge ballroom in the Dallas hotel was filled, the Secret Service closed off further screening and issued an order to lock down the building. But, exhibitors, hotel staff, and police officers managed to sneak in. Some sat on the floor. They had to. Trump spoke for an astonishingly long 110 minutes, cracking jokes, sharing anecdotes, displaying energy visibly absent from President Biden, and drawing a contrast.
The crowd was adoring, even grateful. Hours before, the anticipated CPAC straw poll, a measure of attendee opinions, said it all. To the question, “How do you rate President Trump’s term in office?” 99% approved. To the question of who would be their favorite for the 2024 Republican nomination if the election were held today, Trump came in at 69%. Ron DeSantis was at 24%. Everyone else – Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Kristi Noem, Mike Pompeo – was at 2% or less. As we noted earlier in the week, CPAC is now officially a Trump enterprise. Ever-obsessed with polls, Trump crowed about the numbers. The crowd cheered him on.
But the speech was surprisingly reflective when he ticked off one policy area after another to show profound differences between his and the current administration. The point, of course, was: the GOP should take the House and Senate back in 2022 and the White House in 2024 – or else, there’s no future for the United States.
When he was president, gas was averaging $1.87/gallon. America was energy-dominant, becoming a net exporter for the first time in 2019. Inflation was contained, the stock market was at record highs, and the economy was booming. Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China were all well behaved for four long years. The Abraham Accords opened up new frontiers in Middle East peace. He got the loudest applause when he talked about his firm border policy, investments in the military (including the Space Force), and support for the police.
He was relatively muted on election integrity, referring to a few instances in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania about stuffed boxes. His most robust case was anecdotal. He won in 2016 against a relatively stronger candidate, and in 2020, he got ten million more votes, the only president ever to do so. So, how could he have lost when Biden, in contrast to Trump’s 50,000-strong-crowd election rallies, couldn’t even fill “eight circles at his rallies?” The fact that America perhaps did not vote for Biden but voted against him seemed to elude him.
For the future, he argued for eliminating Zuckbucks-kind private money to fund elections (many red states have already signed this into law) and getting rid of early and absentee voting. “Like France, let’s only have same-day voting with paper ballots!” he thundered. But, his latter proposal has zero chance of passing even in the most conservative states.
His policy prescriptions for the GOP were primarily on cultural issues, sensing the Democrats’ most vulnerable weakness. He spoke at length about inner-city crime, drugs, and opioid use. Job #1 was to restore public safety, he argued, and urged a future GOP-led Congress to appropriate funds to hire more police officers. On rampant illegal immigration, he repeated the word that enrages the Left: invasion, arguing that a future GOP president must build the wall, implement the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, and make drug dealing a capital offense.
Referring to woke school districts implementing CRT in classrooms and transgender training, he called for abolishing the Department of Education. A standing ovation ensued. Multiple times he referred to America as becoming a third-world country and “a joke.”
He called for reforms in the justice system, outlawing the political targeting of opponents. On Russia, Russia, Russia; Impeachment #1; and Impeachment #2 – the audience was profoundly sympathetic. On January 6, he touched upon Kash Patel, a senior Pentagon official, and Richard Grinnell, his acting Director of National Intelligence. He said, for the first time, that both of them were in the room when he offered 10,000 – 20,000 National Guard troops to the Capitol. “But Nancy Pelosi and the Washington D.C. mayor refused,” he said.
The former President’s closing remarks were classic Trump, leaving the tease open, “I am not doing this for me because I had a very good and luxurious life. But I do it for you, and it’s my honor to do it. Because if I don’t, our nation is doomed to become another Venezuela or the Soviet Union, which is where we’re headed.”
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