Despite only getting a disappointing 55 percent in the CPAC straw poll, other polls have put him as high as 70-80 percent amongst Republicans, former President Trump got a thunderous and sustained ovation as he spoke at CPAC on Sunday afternoon.
Do you think it’s depressing for @JoeBiden to realize that more people will tune into Donald Trump’s CPAC speech today than any speech Joe has ever given or will ever give?
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) February 28, 2021
He hit topics including border security, COVID-19, schools, foreign policy, the WHO, the Paris Accords, the XL pipeline, and women’s sports. At every opportunity the crowd gave him wild approval for his comments on these subjects.
The speech was delayed more than an hour, in an unexpected glitch, but Trump more than made up for it with a typically entertaining performance. All the Trump tricks were on display. The Borscht Belt delivery, the excellent timing, the hyperbole, the strong connection with the audience, and the fighting spirit all animated the crowd to great heights of enthusiasm.
As usual, Trump’s words, including some factually problematic statements, were less important than his tone and sarcastic asides. The speech itself brought no surprises. Trump teased the audience with a 2024 run (smart to elongate the suspense), contrasted the accomplishments of his administration with the so far disastrous performance of the Biden administration, and went on and on regarding the 2020 election. He also, the crowd would have been disappointed if he did not, went after his enemies in the Republican Party.
The former president may be making a strategic mistake in emphasizing the last election, as he is only preaching to the choir. The swing voters he needs to return to his fold have moved on from that topic.
Trump Republican enemies meriting specific mention were Liz Cheney, Pat Toomey, Adam Kinzinger, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Fred Upton, and others. The former president, despite his call for a united party, has pledged to support primary challenges to most of his named adversaries.
Trump firmly shut the door on a third party run, which will disappoint some in the populist wing of the Republican Party. Perhaps signaling a return to the traditional Republican practice of nominating successful governors for the presidency, the aforementioned straw poll was also very strong for Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and somewhat strong for South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. If Trump doesn’t run, a DeSantis-Noem ticket in 2024 would indeed be hard to beat. The same straw poll had former Vice President Mike Pence at 1 percent, such has been the consistently conservative Pence’s fall from grace amongst CPAC faithful since he broke with Trump.
Trump’s final words were stirring to the crowd and they reacted accordingly. He walked off stage to the, odd for a campaign song, 70s bathhouse anthem of “YMCA” by the flamboyantly gay band The Village People. Trump scored in Orlando with Trump conservatives. He owns that territory. The rest is yet to come.
This piece was written by David Kamioner on February 28, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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