Will he or won’t he? Former President Donald J. Trump had much to say at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas but remained silent about whether he intends to make a third presidential run.
During the speech, Trump spoke on cornerstone issues to conservatives, ranging from immigration reform to cultural topics, but never directly addressed the question on the minds of many Republican supporters.
Hopes ran high among audience members when the former president said, “I will never stop fighting for you.”
The audience of a couple thousand roared with approval when Trump hinted, “We may have to do it again!”
Trump revisited his 2016 campaign slogan of Make America Great Again, frequently repeating the idea of putting America first.
Much of the more than one-hour speech echoed Trump’s 2016 presidential bid, criticizing Democratic policies.
“As we gather here tonight, our country is under attack, mainly from within… mainly from the radical left,” he told the audience.
Trump specifically attacked Joe Biden’s presidency, perhaps yet another hint at a possible third presidential run.
Trump commented on gas prices, which have more than doubled under Biden’s watch, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and the four-decades high inflation rate.
“I think the day we institute [the death penalty], drug crime would go down,” he theorized. “Every American of every background deserves to live in safety.”
Immigration was a popular topic with many attendees. Trump told a cheering audience the United States is experiencing an invasion similar to a foreign military force attack.
“We created the safest in history; now, in my opinion, it’s the worst border [in the world],” Trump said. He faulted the current administration for ending many of his immigration policies and blamed it for the current situation along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Another 2016 campaign promise the former president visited was “draining the swamp.” He blasted bureaucrats and the Biden administration for a number of cultural issues, including transgender ideology and explicit books in libraries and classrooms.
“No teacher should be able to teach transgender [ideology] to our children without parental consent,” he said.
“We are teaching our children that men can have babies,” he said, adding that certain books need to be replaced by the Bible.
Trump’s approval rating at the convention was 99% among the 1,000 attendees polled by CPAC. Nearly 70% of respondents indicated they would vote for Trump if the Republican primary were held today. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis scored 24%, while Sen. Ted Cruz received a 2% rating.
After the convention concluded, a crowd of red-hatted supporters stood outside the venue, discussing the topic that Trump avoided during his speech.
“I want him to run and win,” said attendee Paul Madigan from Big Sandy in Northeast Texas. “America stood for something when Mr. Trump was President. We had lower gas prices, no inflation, and respect in the world.”
Madigan was joined by Rhonda Fernandez, a resident of Rosenberg along the Gulf Coast, who said the U.S. under Trump stood for power, but after two years of Biden in office, that is no longer true.
“For me, the big issue is [unlawful] immigration,” she said. “We have to do something to stop [it]. My grandfather came here legally; why can’t others?”