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Four things we learned from Donald Trump’s CPAC speech

Former US leader hints at 2024 presidential run in first speech since leaving office

Donald Trump was met with applause and cheers as he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday in his first speech since leaving the White House.

The annual event represents the “most influential gathering of US conservatives and a barometer of the Republican party's political direction”, says the BBC. And the mood of this year’s conference, in Orlando, “has been extremely pro-Trump, with loyalists including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his son Donald Trump Jr among the speakers”.

Here’s what we learned when the former president broke his post-election silence.

1

Mission to reclaim the White House

During a 90-minute speech that was full of “typical Trump showmanship”, says The Guardian, the twice-impeached former president once again repeated the baseless claim that he won the November election but was denied a second term due to voter fraud.

But he predicted that he could return to claim victory in four years, telling the crowd: “Actually, you know they just lost the White House. But who knows - who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time, OK?”

A Republican candidate will win the White House in 2024, he insisted, adding: “And I wonder who that will be? Who, who, who will that be?”

His hints at a second run for greeted with cheers from the audience, who chanted: “You won! You won!” However, some commentators have suggested that Trump is pretending he will run again to cement his position as Republican kingmaker ahead of 2024.

2

No new party

Following his departure from the Oval Office, pundits have speculated that Trump might split from the Republicans to go it alone in the political world. In recent polling, “most Americans who voted for Trump have said they would join a hypothetical offshoot party founded by the former president”, The Independent reports. 

But the former leader dismissed the claims yesterday as “fake news”, quipping: “Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Let’s start a new party so we can divide our vote and never win.”

That was “a good impulse” from Trump, GOP campaign adviser Scott Jennings subsequently said during an appearance on CNN, because the Republicans “cannot win with a fractured party”.

3

Biden broadsides

Predictably, Trump also used his speech to attack his presidential successor, saying: “We all knew the Biden administration was going to be bad, but none of us even imagined just how bad they would be.” 

US policy had gone from “America first to America last” during the “most disastrous first month of any administration”, Trump added.

But while his jibes were greeted with approval by the GOP crowd, the Los Angeles Times says that the “flatness of his broadsides against his former campaign rival carried the tone of a lament”, signalling an “acceptance of reality” by Trump that President Biden “has already set about reversing many of his administration’s policies”.

4

Trumpism defined

The former president also claimed that his legacy remains strong, and that the term “Trumpism” is being used increasingly despite his White House departure. 

Setting out his own definition of the term - or as The Times puts it, “the core of his credo” - Trump listed “great trade deals”, law and order, the right to bear arms, a strong military, good jobs and “love for America”. 

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