In Trump's wide-ranging, 'off-script' CPAC speech, he ignored his chaotic week and lashed out at Mueller and Democrats

  • President Donald Trump invoked some of his past favourite talking points to rail against his political opponents in his Saturday speech capping off the Conservative Political Action Conference.
  • He attacked Democratic lawmakers and special counsel Robert Mueller, and touted his administration’s economic and immigration policies.
  • Trump also mocked renewable energy, saying “when the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric.”

  • The rowdy speech came after a week of challenges against the president, which included a rebuke to his national emergency declaration, a failed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and accusations from his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen of federal and financial crimes.

President Donald Trump fired up supporters with well-worn hits at his political opponents during his speech Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Leaning on a number of his often-invoked talking points, Trump used sweeping historical examples to tout his economic policies, mocked Democratic lawmakers, and brushed off special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential Russian collusion with his 2016 campaign.

After an introduction by CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp, who sparked controversy the day before when he defended nationalism, Trump hugged a nearby American flag as he took the stage, which he’s done several times before, and greeted the audience to the tune of Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.”

Donald trump cpacTasos Katopodis/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump hugs the U.S. flag during CPAC 2019 on March 02, 2019 in Washington, DC.

The speech came after a week of challenges for the president, which included a passed resolution to overturn Trump’s national emergency declaration, a failed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Congressional testimony from Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who accused Trump of federal and financial crimes.

Though Trump made brief mention of the importance of denuclearization with North Korea, but did not address the national emergency or Cohen in Saturday’s speech, choosing instead to revel among his supporters and return to some of his previously touted subjects.

Saying he was “totally off script right now,” because “this is how I got elected, by going off script,” Trump opened his remarks by calling back to his victory in the 2016 Election.

“We did something that has never happened before, and now we have to verify it in 2020 with an even bigger victory,” Trump said.

Touting his presidency as a turn to “reclaiming our nation’s priceless heritage,” he told his supporters “I’m in love, you’re in love, we’re all in love together.”

Trump was seemingly attempting to stoke fears of socialism

Warning against “open borders, socialism, and extreme late-term abortion” he said were championed by Democrats, Trump touched on fears invoked by the conference’s previous speakers who had decried the dangers of socialism, Marxism, and unmitigated government overreach in everyday Americans’ lives.

Read more: Socialism, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and abortion: 3 themes dominated CPAC, the year’s biggest gathering of conservatives

Trump mocked the Democrat-backed Green New Deal, which includes large-scale infrastructure projects to transition the country’s energy from fossil fuels to renewable sources and mitigate the effects of climate change, multiple times.

After sarcastically saying he thinks it is important for the country, Trump offered an example to mock renewable energy, saying “when the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric.”

Waving off Democratic lawmakers as a whole, Trump said “the future does not belong to those who believe in socialism” before claiming “we have people in Congress, right now, that hate our country.”

Trump said he could name all of them, but did not elaborate.

Waving off investigations

Trump called the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, which has resulted in charges for eight Americans once affiliated with Trump’s campaign or administration, 13 Russian nationals, 12 Russian intelligence officers, three Russian companies, and two other others, “this phony thing that now looks like it’s dying.”

The special counsel’s findings have been widely reported to be close to their release.

Citing investigations into his finances, Trump referred to Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff “little shifty-Schiff” before pointing to the sweeping probe into Trump’s finances and potential ties to Russia that was announced last month.

“Unfortunately, you put the wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for a long time that shouldn’t be there and all of a sudden they are trying to take you out with bulls—,” Trump said.

Rallying his supporters

Trump’s speech sparked several chants of “USA” and “build that wall” from the crowd as he railed against former Democratic election opponent Hillary Clinton, made claims about the inefficacy of US immigration systems, and touted the importance of free speech, particularly for his conservative supporters.

“We reject oppressive speech codes, censorship, political correctness, and every other attempt by the hard left to stop people from challenging ridiculous and dangerous ideas,” Trump said.

The president invited Hayden Williams, a conservative activist and student at University of California Berkeley who was filmed being punched on campus, onstage before announcing he would sign an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support “free speech.”

Trump’s comments capped off days of speeches from top conservative figures, including Vice President Mike Pence, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and top Trump administration economic adviser Larry Kudlow, among other activists and leaders at the event in National Harbour, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.

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