By Janice Hisle
WASHINGTON—When he first ran for president in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump told the American people, “I am your voice.”
Now, as he again seeks the White House, former President Donald Trump said: “Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution.”
In his 90-minute speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 4, Trump said he and his supporters are waging “the most important battle in our lives.”
“For seven years, you and I have been engaged in an epic struggle to rescue our country from the people who hate it and want to absolutely destroy it,” he said at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.
“The sinister forces trying to kill America have done everything they can to stop me, to silence you, and to turn this nation into a socialist dumping ground for criminals … radicals, and dangerous refugees.”
By far, Trump is the frontrunner among possible candidates who might vie for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, a CPAC straw poll showed.
During his remarks, which wrapped up the four-day conference, Trump recapped his past accomplishments and described how he would reverse the nation’s current decline and propel it into the future.
He claimed that under President Joe Biden the nation is headed toward degenerating into “a filthy communist nightmare,” a fate worse than socialism. Biden so far has not yet declared whether he will seek a second term as president.
Trump promised, “We are going to finish what we started … complete the vision … to Make America Great Again,” or MAGA.
“We started a great, great positive revolution. … It’s called MAGA. … We will cross the finish line, we will demolish woke tyranny,” he said.
Thousands of people wearing MAGA gear frequently interrupted Trump’s speech with cheers and chants such as, “We love Trump!” and “USA! USA!”
Wading Into the ‘Swamp’
One of the biggest reasons Trump said he thinks he should be returned to office: “Now I am experienced, and I know the people of Washington,” he said. “I now know the good ones, the bad ones, the weak ones, the strong ones.”
Trump said he would fire unelected bureaucrats “and shadow forces who have weaponized our justice system.”
Among those bureaucrats are the so-called “czars” of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Trump said.
Trump said that he has stood strong despite repeated investigations that continue to this day. “The prosecutors get crazier and crazier,” he said, adding that it’s because they’re so bent on stopping him.
“Anyone else will be intimidated, bought off, blackmailed, or ripped to shreds. I, alone, will never retreat,” he resolved.
That kind of bare-knuckles attitude is what is needed, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said during her keynote speech on March 3, the evening before Trump’s remarks.
“No matter what lies they pump out, no matter how many bogus investigations they heap on him, Donald Trump keeps on fighting,” Lake said. She is continuing to contest the results of her own run for governor this past fall.
Although Trump has been frequently criticized for using Twitter to malign his enemies, Lake said, “I miss the bull in the china shop named Donald Trump. I miss the mean tweets. I miss the strength.”
Trump, who was banned from Twitter but got an opportunity to start using his account again, is instead using the new platform he launched, Truth Social.
Southern Border Then and Now
During Trump’s presidential term, 2017–2020, illegal immigration, refugees, and human trafficking plunged to the lowest levels seen in years. “And drug dealers were finding the U.S. border a very inhospitable place to be,” Trump said.
But after Biden took office, he refused to continue building the border wall even though materials were already purchased and were waiting to be installed, Trump said.
“Now we have complete chaos. Fentanyl is pouring in. Families are being wiped out and destroyed. And there’s death everywhere, all caused by incompetence,” Trump said. “Millions of illegal aliens are stampeding across our border. Interior enforcement has been shut down. Everyone is overstaying their tourist visas; nobody even thinks about reporting anymore.”
Trump said if he wins the 2024 election, one of his first actions will be to increase border patrol and deportation agents.
“We will use all necessary state, local, federal, and military resources to carry out the largest domestic deportation operation,” he said. “I will ask every state and federal agency to identify every known or suspected gang member and send them back to their country of origin.”
Trump’s critics fault him and his surrogates for continuing to claim that he “won” the 2020 election.
The CPAC crowd cheered loudly when Trump declared: “All Republican governors should immediately go for paper ballots, one-day voting, and voter ID.”
Other election reforms need to be enacted, he said.
In the meantime, “Republicans must compete using every lawful means to win,” Trump said. The GOP must focus on getting more mail-in and early voters to come forward, along with the Republicans’ historical preference for Election-Day votes, Trump said.
And, until lawmakers can get ballot harvesting outlawed, Republicans need to “become masters of ballot harvesting,” Trump said, and work toward “beating the Democrats at their own game.”
Lake said she has heard people say they’re so disgusted by the voting system they’re considering not voting again. That’s a defeatist approach. If Republicans stop voting, then that ensures one thing: Democrats win. The goal should be to garner so many votes that it’s hard for the Democrats to exceed that level, she said.
“You want to know your vote counted,” regardless of party affiliation, Lake said. “People really do want this issue resolved.”
While Trump says he is the only modern-era president who “did not have any new wars,” some people feared that Trump’s bombastic style could ignite World War III. Instead, “I had the personality type that kept us out of wars,” Trump said. “We were strong; we were safe.”
Trump said he finished wars that were already started, “including defeating 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate.”
And Trump said he knows how to play political chess effectively with Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un, and Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.
“Russia didn’t take over a country during my term,” Trump said, referring to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
“This is the most dangerous time in the history of our country, and Joe Biden is leading us into oblivion,” Trump said. “I’m the only candidate who can make this promise: I can prevent, and very easily, prevent WWW III.”
Trump also said he is confident that he can “end the disastrous war in Ukraine” because he knows exactly what to say to both sides. Trump said he was confident he would be able to successfully forge a peace negotiation “in one day.”
Trump is also critical of Biden’s China policies. Trump wants to revoke China’s “most favored nation” designation.
A four-year plan to phase out all Chinese imports is needed, he said, as part of a larger national trade policy.
Daily Lives Affected
The room erupted in cheers, one after another, as Trump described measures intended to improve Americans’ daily lives.
Trump will put a stop to Big Tech censorship on social medial platforms.
He intends to enact policies that would help parents take better control of their children’s educations, such as school choice programs and electing school principals rather than appointing them.
To protect children from medical harm, Trump said: “I will revoke every Biden policy promoting the chemical castration and sexual mutilation of our youth and ask Congress to send me a bill prohibiting child sexual mutilation in all 50 states.”
He also promised to enact policies that “keep men out of women’s sports.”
Trump said that current interest rates are so high, it’s difficult for many people to afford to buy cars and homes. He promised to institute policies that would ease inflation.
For example, administration officials are urging people to switch from gas stoves and gasoline-powered cars to electric ones. Yet, Trump said there’s not enough electrical grid power to support running those cars and stoves.
As president, Trump said he would focus on improving the nation’s overall living standard.
Trump’s speech also touched on his new “Quantum Leap” program. He unveiled it in a video on March 3, a day before his CPAC speech.
In that video, Trump said he wants to hold a contest to build up to 10 new “Freedom Cities.” These would be built on federal land and would offer people a new shot at homeownership, “reignite American imagination” and give many young people a new shot at homeownership.
His initiative also would support transportation innovation and he would try to get Congress to approve “baby bonuses” to be paid to young parents to help launch a new baby boom, Trump said.
The goal, he said, would be to take a “quantum leap in the American standard of living.”