Former President Donald Trump praised his White House experience and promised to “deal with the RINOs” in a long address at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, where he handily won the internal 2024 presidential straw poll.
Watch the full speech here:
After a tumultuous first term and a re-election defeat in 2020, Trump seems keen to settle scores with members of both parties. Trump called the 2024 election “the last war,” and said in his keynote address that he is wiser now about how Washington operates.
Trump received 62% of the vote in this year’s straw poll, which was conducted at Fort Washington, Maryland. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finished second with 20%, while Michigan billionaire Perry Johnson finished third.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have all expressed support for Johnson, whose candidacy for governor of Michigan was halted last year before the general election. DeSantis has not yet launched a run for president in 2024, but it is largely assumed that he will do so in the coming months.
In a separate survey for vice president, Kari Lake, who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Arizona last year, received 20% of the vote, followed by DeSantis with 14%. According to organizers, more than 2,000 people participated in the vote.
Saturday marked a significant contrast to CPAC’s previous two days Thursday and Friday, when the event’s main hall was around half filled and most individuals in the crowd wore business suits. A few people have privately informed The New York Post that they support Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is set to officially enter the Republican presidential race.
“We are never going back to a party that wants to give unlimited money to fight foreign endless wars but demands we cut veteran benefits and retirement benefits at home,” Trump said.
While many Republican leaders have distanced themselves from Trump after many of the candidates he endorsed in the 2022 midterm elections lost their races, the former president had a devoted and large group of fans cheering him on at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland’s National Harbor.
Trump cautioned in his almost two-hour address that some of his possible primary opponents would embrace Social Security and Medicare reforms.
Trump also warned that the United States might be on the verge of World War III as a result of the escalating conflict in Ukraine, and stated that he felt he could broker a peace agreement with Russia.
He then slammed the never-ending investigations and prosecutions that have been launched against him, including a current inquiry into his possible participation in the January 6 incident, separate cases in New York and Georgia, and the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence last August.
A day before his address, Trump issued a four-minute video in which he outlined some big ideas, including the construction of up to ten “freedom cities” on federal property and the promotion of “flying cars.”
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, one of Trump’s already-announced adversaries, joined the stage on Thursday. Haley, 51, delivered an eloquent address in which she called for a “new generation” of leaders in Washington.
Haley garnered single-digit support in the CPAC straw poll, and some audience members booed when the announcer read her name on Saturday.