Trump just gave his most freewheeling, wild speech in months

  • President Donald Trump gave a freewheeling, raucous speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that was reminiscent of a campaign rally.
  • In the almost 1 1/2-hour speech, Trump attacked Hillary Clinton, Democrats in Congress, John McCain, the World Trade Organisation, a deputy in Florida who resigned over his response to last week’s mass shooting, and more.

President Donald Trump on Friday returned to campaign-style rhetoric at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he delivering a speech reminiscent of some of his raucous rallies during the 2016 race.

Trump used the nearly 1 1/2-hour speech to tout Republicans’ recently enacted tax law, make jokes about his hair, attack political rivals including Hillary Clinton and John McCain, advocate a program to arm teachers, praise the military, and much more.

In the speech, Trump:

  • Called Hillary Clinton a “crooked candidate” and slammed her for failing to campaign in key swing states. The “crooked candidate” comment drew chants of “Lock her up” from the CPAC crowd, more than 15 months after the election.
  • Attacked John McCain for the Republican senator’s surprising thumbs-down vote against a GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. “Remember, one person walked into a room and he was supposed to go this way, and he said he was going this way,” Trump said, giving a thumbs-up. “And walked in and he went this way and everybody said: ‘What happened? What was that all about?’ Who was that? I don’t know … I don’t want to be controversial, so I won’t say his name.”
  • Went after Democrats on several issues, including voting against the tax bill and immigration.
  • Suggested that without increased military funding, people in the audience “may not have your houses, your homes, your beautiful communities.”
  • Asked the crowd members whether they would rather keep the recent tax cuts or their Second Amendment rights, gauging cheers for each. The Second Amendment appeared to win the enthusiasm contest.
  • Slammed Scot Peterson, the armed Florida police officer who failed to engage the shooter during the massacre last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “He turned out not to be a credit to law enforcement – that I can tell you,” Trump said.
  • Reiterated a desire to arm teachers as a way of preventing shootings in schools, saying an armed teacher would have “shot the hell out of” the killer in Parkland, Florida. “These teachers are talented with weaponry and guns and they feel safe,” Trump said. “And I’d rather have somebody who loves their students and wants to protect their student rather than somebody standing outside that doesn’t know anybody.”
  • Recited the lyrics to a song about a “vicious snake” that bites a “tender woman” after she takes in the snake – an analogy for taking in refugees that he frequently spouted along the campaign trail.
  • Criticised US trade policies while promising to go after the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organisation, which he said “created China.”
  • Joked about his hair: “I try like hell to hide that bald spot.”

The president had been more subdued of late during public appearances, with a straightforward State of the Union address last month and more conventional public appearances. But the unfettered speech Friday and a recent uptick in Twitter activity seem to reflect a return to a more traditional Trumpian stance.

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