- Donald Trump says he can save America from the “warmongering” Democrats and the “bigoted and foolish” Republican Party.
- The former president was speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
- It comes the day after Mr Trump released a single in collaboration with men jailed for the Capitol riot.
Donald Trump upped the ante in the 2024 election on Saturday by warning he was the only candidate capable of saving America from “warmongering” Democrats and the “bigoted and foolish” ruling Republican Party.
Mr Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that Americans were “in an epic fight to save our country from the people who hate it and desperately want to destroy it”.
“We had a Republican Party run by freaks, neoconservatives, globalists, open-border fanatics, and jerks,” he said, pointing to several mainstream party luminaries by name.
American voters, Mr Trump said, were tired of “ingrained bipartisan political dynasties, rotten special interests, China-loving politicians” and supporters of “endless foreign wars”.
“We’re going to have World War III if something doesn’t happen soon,” he warned in a section expressing his disapproval of US aid to Ukraine.
“I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III.”
Mr. Trump spoke for about 100 minutes to close the four-day CPAC, just steps down the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, Washington.
CPAC was until recently the premier gathering of conservative thought leaders in America, but has been swallowed up by Mr. Trump’s far-right “Make America Great Again” movement, with experts recently calling the event a “MAGApalooza”.
Who attended the conference?
“We’re going to finish what we started,” Mr. Trump said as he took the stage, prompting a chant of “Four more years, four more years!”
The 2023 edition featured speeches from some of the nation’s most committed Trumpists — and even — though many potential 2024 nominees and Republican leaders skipped the convention.
The meeting drew smaller than usual crowds, raising questions about its continued relevance as many speeches were delivered from rows of empty seats.
Former President Donald Trump continues to falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud. Source: AAP / PA
But the room was packed as Mr Trump pleaded for a second term, as he faced charges of trying to steal the 2020 election through a multi-step criminal conspiracy that included incitement to an insurrection.
He reiterated conspiracy theories about voter fraud and grievances against “radical left” law enforcement and prosecutors.
The address offered a split-screen with the retreat of donors to the conservative Club for Growth in Florida, where much of the Republican establishment had decamped for the weekend.
At CPAC, vendors hawked books, dating apps and even WiFi services specifically marketed for conservatives. The hats, flags, mugs and other merchandise on offer were almost exclusively aimed at Trump loyalists.
‘Justice for all’
On Friday, the former president released a single in collaboration with a choir of men imprisoned for their
The single was released on music streaming services, titled Justice for All by Donald J Trump and the J6 Prison Choir.
The song features Mr. Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance above the chorus of men singing the Stars and Stripes.
It ends with a chant of “USA, USA”.
In December, the U.S. House committee released its final report on the Capitol riot and said Mr. Trump had failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the Capitol.
He also accused him of criminally engaging in a “multi-party conspiracy” to nullify the election results.
‘I am your retribution’
A list of panelists who spoke at CPAC ahead of Mr. Trump’s speech sparked an avalanche of conspiracy theories and anti-trans rhetoric as speakers touted their Christian principles.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, who led the pack in pursuit of Mr Trump, skipped the event, avoiding the humiliation of being booed by fans of the former president .
Mr. Trump did not mention either by name, confusing analysts’ expectations of attacks targeting the two.
But delegates repeatedly heckled her only avowed Republican rival, Nikki Haley, during and after her Friday convention appearance.
Former Mr Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and his famous ally Mike Lindell were treated like royalty as they roamed the halls of the National Harbor Convention Center preaching election denial.
“It will not be a fair election,” Mr Lindell told AFP of the 2024 race.
“But when 90% of the people of this country want Donald Trump, he should still win, even with a crooked election.”
Before Mr Trump took the stage, it was revealed he had won the convention’s poll of potential Republican leaders with 62% of the vote – with DeSantis a distant second with 20%.
“In 2016, I said: I am your voice. Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your righteousness. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution,” Mr. Trump said.
“I will totally obliterate the Deep State. I will fire the unelected bureaucrats and shadow forces who have militarized our justice system. And I will put the people back in control of this country.”
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