Ex-President Donald Trump closed out CPAC, the annual conference of conservative leaders, by airing grievances aplenty and promising only he can save America from becoming a “filthy communist nightmare” by getting rid of the “deep state” and overturning President Joe Biden’s policies if he gets a second chance in the nation’s highest office.
“If you put me back in the White House, we will be a free nation. Their reign will be over,” he told a cheering crowd at the three-day right-wing conference just outside Washington, DC. “We’re no longer a free country. We don’t have a free press. We don’t have a free anything.”
The ex-commander-in-chief spent most of his speech insulting his political enemies on the left and the right and positioned himself as the one and only person who can make America great again.
“I will totally obliterate the deep state,” Trump said. “I will fire the unelected bureaucrats and shadow forces — sick — these are sick people.”
And again he espoused the completely disproven claim that he won the 2020 presidential election.
At the podium, Trump also sought to settle scores with former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, former presidential adviser Karl Rove, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who he grouped into the category of “freaks, neocons, open-border zealots and fools.”
He also mocked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as a “China-loving politician.”
He bashed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as being soft on crime. Bragg’s office is investigating Trump’s hush-money payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels after their reputed affair.
“This racist DA is being pushed by radical left Democrats, the fake news media and the department of injustice to bring charges against me for a now ancient no-affair story of Stormy ‘Horse Face’ Daniels. No affair, no affair. Where there is no crime anyway,” he said of Bragg, who is Black.
Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis, who is investigating the former president for trying to overturn the will of the Peach State voters, also received Trump’s scorn.
Willis’ investigation started after the leak of a recorded phone call between the former president and the Georgia secretary of state in which Trump asked the elected to official to “find” the winning votes for him.
“Then you have the racist DA from Atlanta,” he said of Willis, who is also Black. “She has her kangaroo court focused on a perfect phone call that I made.”
Despite imminent charges forthcoming in both of these investigations, Trump said an indictment would not stop his presidential campaign. “Absolutely. I wouldn’t even think about leaving,” he told the Associated Press before the speech.
Trump vowed to stop U.S. involvement in foreign wars and ridiculed Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
He called the Biden administration “the most corrupt administration in history.” “Joe Biden is a criminal and nothing ever happens to him,” Trump said.
Trump said that he would build the country into an economic powerhouse by forcing countries that receive U.S. military protection to prioritize the purchase of American goods.
Trump started his speech by thanking Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who was recently cleared in a federal sex trafficking investigation. “He had a lot of things under his belt,” Trump said.
He also name-checked former Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., “a man who’s terrific — almost won for governor of New York. Could have done it, but so many people moved out of New York. It gets tougher. He’s a great guy and he’s a strong guy.”
He recalled that a man tried to attack Zeldin while he was campaigning near Rochester last year.
“You know he stopped somebody coming at him with a knife,” Trump said. “He grabbed that guy’s hand. He looked pretty tough and he drove him to the ground. Lee Zeldin.”
“So many people moved out of New York, it’s getting tougher.”
Amid the attacks on his enemies, Trump said little about his rivals for the Republican nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.
Instead, the former president basked in his supporters’ cheers and promised to complete his legacy if reelected.
“We are going to finish what we started,” he said. “We’re going to complete the mission. We’re going to see this battle through to ultimate victory.”
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This story was originally published March 4, 2023, 10:18 PM.