Live blog: Trump triumph at CPAC

Update: Wrapping up, he ends by thanking the Schlapps and saying to the audience, “God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.” His exit music, as always, is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones. Seems appropriate here at CPAC, but the crowd here absolutely loved Trump’s speech.


Update: In that same vein, Trump says, “We are all equal under God.” Offers his thanks to communities of faith.

Update: “I’m not representing the globe, I’m representing your country.” Chants of “USA!” He continues: “There is one allegiance that connects us all and that’s to America.”

Update: Brings up Hillary’s “deplorable” comment, prompting chants of “Lock her up!” Trump ignores that and quips, “Who would have thought one word could do so much damage?”

Update: “And by the way, we will protect our Second Amendment,” Trump says, and gets a standing ovation. “The NRA has been a great supporter, they love our country.”

Update: Wraps up with a restatement of his priorities as president, covering the more detailed discussions earlier in the address.

Update: Delay in Cabinet confirmation is “very sad,” but jokes that “I love setting records.”

Update: “In the next few days we will take action to protect America,” Trump says. Seems to be a reference to the replacement EO on the travel “ban.”

Update: “Take a look at what’s happening in Europe,” Trump says in relation to terrorism. “I took a lot of heat for Sweden.” Crowd laughs.

Update: Trump promises “one of the great military buildups in American history. … No one will ever question our military might. We believe in peace through strength, and that’s what we will have.”

Update: Promises tax reform to simplify the tax process for for both businesses and individuals, and says that jobs “have begun to pour back into the US” in anticipation of that success. “They’re going back to Michigan, and they’re going back to Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and Florida. It’s time for Americans to get off welfare and get back to work.” Huge cheers.


Update: “We’re going to put the regulation industry out of business.”

Update: Pledges to put coal miners back to work to get “beautiful clean-coal” energy.

Update: Gets a good round of applause for approving the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. Says the pipe has to be made in the USA.

Update: Trump seems to be working from a framework for his speech but speaking mainly extemporaneously. He’s gotten much more disciplined at that over the past two years, which allows him to keep his free-form style while maintaining message clarity.

Update: Begins listing the steps he’s already taking to keep his campaign promises, starting with immigration enforcement and the border wall.

Update: Just as Mike Pence did last night, Trump commits again to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Says he’d be better off politically to just let it implode on its own, but that it wouldn’t be right for the American people.

Update: On foreign policy and Middle East interventionism: “If our presidents had gone to the beach for the last 15 years, we’d be in much better shape.”

Update: The construction of the wall will begin “well ahead of schedule.”

Update: “There’s been movements that petered out. Like Bernie.” Says that this movement will sustain itself. “The core conviction of our movement is that we are a nation that will put its own citizens first.” Huge cheers, “USA!” chant follows.

Update: Trump offers up his view of what his win means, but it can be boiled down to “He fights!”

Update: “I love the First Amendment,” Trump says. “Who uses it more than me?” Says he has the right to criticize the news media just as much as they have the right to criticize him.


Update: The point of fake news and bad polling is to demotivate voters, and “we have to fight it.”

Update: “There are honorable reporters … who are honest as the day is long.” Slams polling, and not without justification. Says CNN is “the Clinton News Network.”

Update: Trump says that he said the fake news is the enemy of the people, but he supports the media in general. “I’m against the people who make up stories and make up sources,” slams anonymous sourcing. “Let their name be put out there … let them say it to my face.”

Update: “I want you to know we are fighting the fake news. … A few days ago, I called them the enemy of the people, and they are.”

Update: “Consultants didn’t think we could win. … They’re really good at sucking up money.”

Update: Says that his great reception in 2011 CPAC convinced him to consider running for president. Says he would have come last year but thought he might be “too controversial.” Adds, “Now you finally have a president, and it’s patriots like you that made it happen.”

Update: “I wouldn’t miss a chance to talk to my friends.” Says he’ll come back to CPAC “again and again,” and then says the media will claim he never got a standing ovation unless the audience sits down for a spell. Chants of “USA!” break out.

Update: The Schlapps only spoke for a couple of minutes before introducing Trump, to a standing ovation and loud cheers. “Great to be back at CPAC … I love this place.”


Update: Matt and Mercedes Schlapp kick off this part of the program by greeting each other on stage: “Hello, Mr. Deplorable … Hello, Mrs. Irredeemable.” Matt notes that the last time a president addressed CPAC in his first year in office was Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Update, 10:03 am: Welcome to the live-blogging. As noted below, remarks will come at the top of the post in reverse chronological order, so my most recent update will be on top. I may not time-tag each update, however, so just bear that in mind while scrolling down.

The main ballroom is full to capacity already; they have been warning people not to leave, lest they lose their chance to see the speech. Those warnings began 20 minutes ago.

Original post follows …

A triumph, in Roman times, referred to the entry of a victorious commander or emperor at the head of a parade to celebrate his leadership — no matter how people thought of the commander or emperor beforehand. This morning, that definition applies to Donald Trump’s return to CPAC, one year after both Trump and CPAC parted ways over format and potential protests. Today Trump returns as a conquering hero, perhaps in more way than one.

That’s certainly how the LA Times sees it.  Even where conservatives differ on policy, they are too busy counting their blessings to care … for now:

Even those who do not agree with all of Trump’s ideas seemed pleased with the excitement in the halls of the waterfront convention center outside Washington. And they believed he was winning over the conservative movement, even if Trump has historically low popularity ratings with the wider public. Those here who disagree with Trump on trade, a border wall or other populist policies were generally pleased with his Cabinet choices and extremely happy with his nominee for the Supreme Court, federal Judge Neil M. Gorsuch.

“A year ago, a lot of them were for Cruz,” said Ron Fodor, the mayor of Slippery Rock, Pa., referring to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another event speaker who was competing with Trump in 2016 for the Republican presidential nomination.

Now, Fodor said, “it’s kind of like a victory party.”


Margaret Carlson complains that CPAC has left out “conservative principles” in its embrace of Trump & Co:

They have come to celebrate the ascendance of Donald Trump, who couldn’t have risen without their abandoning their belief system in favor of joining the winning team. Without them, the thrice-married, four-time bankrupt casino and real-estate mogul, who previously embodied everything they were once against, could not have been elected.

In earlier times, CPAC awarded its straw poll victories to the Pauls, father and son, and family values crusader Gary Bauer. There was a county fair-without-the-prize-bull feel in the exhibit hall, with homages to Phyllis Schlafly and William Buckley, large screens devoted to a history of debt, and a target range where if you got close to the bull’s eye, you could win a pocket copy of the Constitution.

This year CPAC is all about a victory lap for the nationalist populist Breitbarians who admire Putin, despise immigrants, and want to roll back regulations to the days of smog alerts and rivers catching fire from all the chemicals dumped in them. The former head of Breitbart, (which now has a front-row seat at White House press conferences), Steve Bannon, National Security Council member and co-chief of staff, was a marquee attraction Thursday, along with his so-called counterpart Reince Priebus, who is trying to prove he is more than a potted palm, just as Mike Pence will have to labor to show he isn’t a puppet.

Not surprisingly, the LA Times does better at capturing the dynamic in play here at CPAC. The traditional conservatives are well represented at the conference. The discussions from the main stage still focus on property rights, deregulation, religious liberty, gun rights, national security, and tax reform. Rather than highlight the differences between populists and conservatives, the focus has been mainly on areas of commonality. Now, that may present problems down the road when priorities have to be set and specific policies chosen, but for now the focus is on opportunities rather than conflict.


For the last two years, and perhaps for the last eight, CPAC has been riven with dissent between the populist libertarians of the Paul faction and the think-tank conservatives. Election losses in 2008 and 2012 stoked the divisions more than they presented a point of unity, and not even the two big midterm wins erased those divisions, largely because the activists here realized the limits of what could be done without control of the White House, even if politicians pretended those limitations didn’t exist. For the first time in a decade, CPAC has convened with Republicans in full control of Washington DC, and the mood here is almost entirely optimistic about the potential for real change over the next four years. The exact nuances of those changes can be debated later, but right now CPAC is embracing victory rather than looking for reasons to argue amongst each other.

The big question for Trump’s triumphal speech will be whether he emphasizes the commonalities, or focuses on the divisions. Trump being Trump, he’ll almost certainly take a shot at CPAC for last year’s split, but Trump understands that these are the activists he’ll need on his side for the next four years. Expect the triumphal love fest to continue.

I’ll begin live blogging the events from the main stage at 10 am ET, with updates going in reverse chronological order at the top. Trump’s expected to speak at 10:30, but logistical issues will almost certainly delay his arrival a bit.

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