Former President Donald Trump brought the crowd to its feet with a defiant speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this weekend in his first public appearance since leaving office.
In wide-ranging remarks, Trump marked his return to the political arena with a bold declaration that his “America First” movement is just getting started.
Trump’s speech followed weeks of relative silence from the voluble ex-president, who kept quiet as Joe Biden assumed office and as Democrats — and Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney (WY) — expressed a dear wish to see him fall off the face of the earth in disgrace.
“From America First to America Last”
But Trump left little doubt in Orlando on Sunday that he sees himself as the GOP’s leader, and the enthusiastic reception suggested that he is correct; the crowd broke into chants of “You won!” and “We love you!” as he spoke, the New York Post reports.
According to a transcript from Rev, an unapologetic Trump asserted Sunday that he was the rightful winner of the “rigged” 2020 election and even threatened to “beat them for a third time,” and he called on the GOP to unite behind “America First” as the only way forward for the party, and indeed for America.
He also painted a bleak picture of what lies ahead if Republicans fail in an existential “struggle” for America’s destiny, pointing to Biden’s first weeks — the “most disastrous first month of any president in modern history” — as a preview of decline.
“Already the Biden administration has proven that they are anti-jobs, anti-family, anti-borders, anti-energy, anti-women, and anti-science,” Trump said, according to the transcript. “In just one short month, we have gone from America First to America Last.”
Trump to GOP: Stop “grandstanding”
Trump also said Republicans need to learn to fight like Democrats, who always “stick together.” The GOP needs leaders with “spines of steel” who will fight for fair elections and free speech, and stand up against “left-wing tyranny” imposed by Big Tech and cancel culture, the president asserted.
With America facing such dire threats to liberty, Republicans cannot win with “grandstanders” and “RINOs” in charge who are more concerned with fighting Trump and his supporters than with the left, Trump said — naming and shaming Republicans who voted for his impeachment, led by “warmonger” Cheney.
“We cannot have leaders who show more passion for condemning their fellow Americans than they have ever shown for standing up to Democrats, the media, and the radicals who want to turn America into a socialist country,” Trump declared.
As grave as America’s situation may be, Trump predicted with confidence that liberty will prevail if conservatives stand strong and fight.
“The path ahead will not be easy, but we will win,” he said, according to the transcript. “We’re tougher than they are. We’re stronger than they are. Together, in the coming years, we will carry forward the torch of American Liberty. We will lead the conservative movement and the Republican Party back to a totally conclusive victory.”