Trump rallies conservatives at CPAC

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President Trump delivered a campaign-style address to a group of conservatives Saturday, issuing a broadside against his Democratic opponents and defending his administration’s response to the coronavirus amid growing concerns about the outbreak in the United States.

Trump demonized Democrats as “far-left radicals” and took shots at individual candidates running for the Democratic nomination on the same day as the South Carolina primary. 

At one point, Trump lowered himself at the podium to mock the height of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who the president regularly refers to as “Mini Mike.”  

“They want to take away your money, take away your choice, take away your speech, take away your guns, take away your religion, take away your history, take away your future and take away, ultimately, your freedom,” Trump said of Democrats in remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday afternoon.

“But we will never let them do that,” he said.

The president claimed policies put forth by Democrats “would turn America very quickly into a large-scale Venezuela.”

Trump touted his administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus amid continued scrutiny, claiming he “has taken the most aggressive action in modern history to control our borders and protect Americans from the coronavirus.” Trump mentioned the travel restrictions on Iran and screenings on passengers from Italy and South Korea that he and other officials announced earlier Friday.

Trump briefly also knocked Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for criticizing him over his administration’s response to the virus, touting the need for a “nonpartisan” approach “if we can.” At a rally in South Carolina the evening before, Trump described Democratic criticism of his response to the virus as a “hoax.”

Trump delivered the speech shortly after addressing reporters on his administration’s response to the coronavirus in the White House briefing room. 

The president’s tone was markedly different from that of his measured remarks during the press briefing just an hour earlier, his speech resembling those he delivers at his frequent campaign rallies.

The address included barbs against the media and his Democratic presidential opponents and complaints about his impeachment mixed with endorsements of his economic policies. 

Trump also touted the deal signed by the U.S. and the Taliban on Saturday aimed at winding down a U.S. presence in Afghanistan, which he hopes will ultimately fulfill his promise to end America’s longest war.

“American forces cannot be the police for the entire world,” Trump said. “For years they’ve been trying to do this, and today the United States signed a deal with the Taliban so that we can hopefully begin the immediate process of finally bringing our troops back home.”

The annual conference, held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center located in National Harbor, Md., is attended by prominent conservative media personalities and activists, as well as Republican lawmakers and officials. 

Several high-level Trump administration officials have delivered remarks at the three-day event, which concludes Saturday. Trump was welcomed into the room with loud and excited chants of “USA! USA!”

“We’re doing so well and we’re doing so much. No administration has ever done what we have done in the first three years,” Trump said at the outset of his remarks, mentioning his appointment of dozens of federal judges and the 2017 tax cut. 

“Together we’re defeating the radical socialist Democrats, the fake news media, the crooked politicians and the hate-filled left-wing mob,” Trump said. 

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