Trump tells CPAC “maybe we should do it again” when talking about possible presidential run in 2024

Dallas- Former President Donald Trump returned to the CPAC stage on Saturday, pushing his baseless election claims, bashing his enemies and hinting at a possible run in 2024 by saying, “Maybe we should do it again.”

“If I stayed at home, the persecution of Donald Trump would stop immediately, but I can’t do that because I love my country and the people,” he said.

Later in the nearly two-hour speech, he said, “America’s comeback will begin in November and will continue with the unstoppable momentum we will develop in November 2024.”

Trump didn’t announce another run for the White House in 2024, but he still comfortably won the CPAC straw poll, as he has for the past few years. In a straw poll in which Trump was removed from the list, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was the clear favorite with 64%, and Senator Ted Cruz came in a distant second with 6%. Everyone else had less than 5%.

Former President Trump and fellow conservatives address annual CPAC meeting
Former US President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC, held at the Hilton Anatole on August 6, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.

BRANDON BELL / Getty Images

Trump regularly pointed to the results of the straw poll on the podium, especially his approval rating among the conference’s conservative attendees.

Trump spent a significant portion of the speech blasting moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who both signed the climate accord that the Senate voted on while Trump was on stage. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the decisive vote to continue the legislation as Trump spoke. The bill received the support of all 50 Democrats and no Republicans. The Senate began the debate after its vote, which will last until 8 p.m. before the Senate begins voting on the amendments.

Trump vowed to go to West Virginia, a state he won by nearly 20 points, and campaign against Manchin if he is re-elected in 2024, and to campaign against Sinema when she also runs for re-election in Arizona that same year.

Former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr who resigned after the 2020 election amid false claims by Trump, warned CBS News’ Catherine Herridge earlier this week that if Trump won in 2024, he would be a “78-year-old crippled duck who is clearly out for revenge more than anything else.”

When Trump mentioned Barr, there was booing from the crowd. He also reprimanded Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell for letting the deal come to the Senate floor. Last month, Trump called McConnell, who refuses to defend Trump’s actions surrounding the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, “disloyal.” Trump said Saturday that senators are loyal to him only because of his fundraising.

Trump made a few references to the House Jan. 6 committee — which held public hearings to present their findings on the attack on the US Capitol – calling them “disgusting”.

During an earlier speech by GOP Representative Lauren Boebert, the crowd shouted to “liberate the J6 defendants.” Trump named those charged in connection with the attack, saying, “Look at these people whose lives are being destroyed.”

He also mocked the testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said she heard Trump try to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle.

“So my hands fell around another powerful man, strong as hell…I know these people well, it’s just not my deal,” Trump said.

He added jokingly, “When that story came out, people said, ‘I never knew you were that strong physically.'”

Trump reiterated the claim that he wanted to call in the National Guard ahead of the Jan. 6 attack, saying former Defense Department official Kash Patel witnessed it. The The committee of January 6 has shared images to dispute Trump’s claim of having 10,000 troops at the ready.

“Not from my perspective, I was never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature,” Trump’s acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said in a recorded statement that the commission tweeted last month.

However, the biggest applause of the evening came as Trump discussed culture war issues such as parental rights, saying he would “abolish the Department of Education” and “keep men out of women’s sports.” He also said he would not allow the teaching of critical race theory.

But Trump over the years has not focused heavily on some of the Republican party’s biggest problems related to the culture war, only referring to the Second Amendment in passing. He made no mention of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, although it was heavily discussed at the conference.

Trump stuck with many of the themes of his earlier speeches, addressing crime, inflation, and the US as a “nation in decline.”

Trump began his speech by announcing many of his allies running for, or already in office, who attended the conference. That included Kari Lake, who introduced him on Saturday, fresh off her win this week in the Republican primary for governor in Arizona.

Trump delivered the closing address on the last day of the three-day conference, which also featured a far-right Hungarian leader Victor Orbanwho has said he does not want Hungarians to “become mixed race peoples”.

Saturday was the second speech in as many days for the former president, who visited Waukesha, Wisconsin on Friday night, where he took a victory round following a number of wins by his backed candidates in Tuesday’s primaries.

“This has been an exceptional week for the America First movement, exceptional,” Trump said Friday.

Trump had targeted Arizona — one of the states that waved to President Biden in 2020 — in Tuesday’s primaries in a bid to install his loyalists. His approved candidates in Arizona won the Republican primaries for the Senate, Governor and Secretary of State, the state’s highest-ranking election official.

Trump also had endorsed David Farnswortha candidate in Arizona’s 10th Senate district who will face Rusty Bowers, who had testified about Trump and his allies’ attempts to install false voters who supported Trump after the 2020 election. Farnsworth also won that election.

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