11:31 – Speech concludes. The song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” begins playing. A strong speech, albeit meandering a bit in the final 15 minutes or so. He spent a lot less time attacking the media than I would have guessed, but nevertheless he had the crowd eating out of his hands. CPAC — this year again — is riding the Trump Train.
I’ll be on EWTN with more reaction in a few minutes. Be sure to tune in!
11:30 – Announces a new round of sanctions on North Korea, “the heaviest sanctions ever imposed,” almost as a throwaway line before his final conclusion.
11:29 – Trump finally gets around to taking a shot at the media, but says they’ll come around to him again — because they need the ratings they get from his presidency.
11:26 – Trump seems to have shifted to a tangent to talk about trade deficits — perhaps this would have been better earlier in the speech. China’s a particular target here, and says he’ll terminate deals that don’t protect American jobs.
11:23 – Rolling to a big finish now. Trump is citing all of the surging economic and employment indicators, with the crowd standing and cheering each item. Ends with a rally cry to get involved in the midterms.
11:22 – “You knew darned well I was a snake before you took me in,” Trump concludes. “And that’s immigration, folks,” he adds during the applause.
11:20 – Okay, we’re really going to get a poetry reading at CPAC. This is hilarious.
11:17 – Come on, who doesn’t know “The Snake”? It’s the R&B version of the Frog and Scorpion fable from Aesop.
11:14 – “I don’t want people coming into this country through a lottery,” Trump declares, “I want them based on merit … people who will support themselves … share our values.”
11:12 – “Democrats have totally abandoned DACA,” Trump says, noting that it’s very possible that “nothing will be done about it.” Republicans want to work on the issue, but Democrats have stopped talking about the issue. Calls again for “a great border wall” to stop people from “pouring into the country.”
11:09 – Brings up MS-13. “These are animals,” Trump says, “they cut people into little pieces.” He’s determined to create ‘common-sense measures’ to “lock them up and throw away the keys.”
11:06 – “I’ve seen a lot of words,” Trump says, “and very little action.” It’s about common sense, Trump says, about securing the schools and improving the background check system. Protecting children, Trump continues, is also about “securing the streets. … Reducing violent crime is a top priority for my administration.”
11:03 – “We have to really strengthen up background checks,” Trump says, noting that the NRA has been very supportive of him. “Congress will get it through.” Hmmm. We’ll see.
10:59 – Trump criticizes the cop who failed to act at Douglas High, but didn’t linger on it long. Got a mild response from the crowd. “These teachers love their students,” Trump says, “and they are talented with guns. … I’d rather have someone who loves the students” in position to defend the students more than police officers who may not know the students at all.
10:57 – “Why do we protect our airports and banks, but not our schools?” Trump asked. “When we make schools gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger.” Calls for “well trained, gun-adept” teachers and administrators should be empowered with concealed-carry permits to defend their schools and their students.
10:55 – “There are not enough tears in the world to express our sorrow,” Trump says. “They have suffered beyond anything I have ever witnessed.” A very powerful moment here.
10:54 – Following his remarks on Graham, Trump brings up the Parkland school shooting. “I can speak for all of the Congressmen and Congresswomen,” Trump says, “we will act.” You can hear a pin drop at this point.
10:50 – Trump quiets the crowd by paying homage to the late Billy Graham. “A great man,” Trump says, “and right from the beginning they were for us.”
10:48 – Back to the midterms: “We need more Republicans! That’s why you need to get out and fight for ’18, okay?”
10:46 – Big cheers for supporting law enforcement. Adds, “Don’t worry, you’re getting the wall, okay?”
10:42 – Huge cheers on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and says that every president promised to do so and failed. Says the pressure on him was enormous to reverse his campaign pledge, understands why they failed, but “you have to do the right thing.”
10:41 – “Kerry might be the worst negotiator ever,” Trump says in blasting the deal with Iran. Says that we have to teach hostile nations a lesson: “We treat them much worse than they can ever imagine.”
10:40 – Reminiscing for a bit about his initial appearance at CPAC in 2011. Notes that it was his first political speech and says it led directly to his candidacy in 2015.
10:38 – Cites 37% growth in Dow Jones index, says he wondered when the correction would come. However, he also told the crowd to be patient: “We’ve got seven years to go,” he says, to wild cheers. He’s running.
10:37 – Trump asks the crowd if it’s okay that he’s straying from his prepared speech. “It’s a little boring,” he jokes, gets a large laugh.
10:33 – Cites the Keystone Pipeline and his support for coal, especially for export. Interesting anecdote involving Vietnam. Brags about killing the TPP as a job-killing agreement.
10:31 – This is definitely more like a campaign rally speech. He’s going off the cuff, enjoying himself, staying in attack mode, and going on tangents to slap at opponents. Classic Trump rally form.
10:29 – Takes a shot at John McCain over his torpedoing of ObamaCare repeal, but says it’s “probably” better to do it piece by piece. “I don’t want to be controversial, so I won’t mention his name.”
10:27 – Does a cheer poll between tax cuts and the Second Amendment, but then says, “We’re going to get both.”
10:25 – Worth pointing out that he’s making this rally argument much longer than his bragging about tax reform and judicial appointments. “Don’t be complacent,” he warns. “They will repeal your tax cuts … they will take away your Second Amendment, which we will never allow to happen …”
10:22 – Trump notes that presidents have a tough time in midterms. “We can’t let that happen,” he tells the crowd. He warns the crowd not to get complacent. “You don’t have that same drive,” he notes, after a big win. Big rally argument. “We get clobbered in ’18? We can’t let that happen.”
10:19 – Security removed a protester after getting shouted down by crowd. We’re too far away to hear what was said, but it was clearly amusing to Trump. “How did he get in here, Matt?” he rhetorically asked Schlapp.
10:18 – Trump clearly having fun. “I try like hell to hide that bald spot,” he says as he checks his hair on the monitors. Immediately jumps to judicial nominations, and then tax cuts.
10:16 – “We’ve come a long way together.”
10:15 – Matt Schlapp announces this is the largest CPAC yet, and then introduces Trump to wild applause. Chants of “USA!” immediately begin.
10:03 – Still waiting for Trump to enter, but there’s even more news on the international front. The White House has set the date to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, at least in form:
NEW: Ribbon cutting for U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem expected May 14, and some embassy staff will be in place, but embassy will have full opening under original timetable near end of 2019, senior admin. official tells @NBCNews – @Abs_NBC
— NBC News World (@NBCNewsWorld) February 23, 2018
That will almost certainly get a mention by Trump today.
Original post follows …
Are you ready for a triumphal celebration? Don’t expect political football from Donald Trump as he takes the stage for his second straight CPAC appearance as president. He’s already looking forward to his appeal to the conference, and setting a combative mood:
Yesterday, Mike Pence delivered a well-crafted and well-delivered speech that focused on commonalities and overlap between the populists and the conservatives, while avoiding some of the touchier differences — such as fiscal discipline, a topic that never arose in Pence’s speech. Don’t expect it to come up in Trump’s speech today, and don’t expect it to dance lightly around other potential disagreements. Trump’s coming here to remind everyone that he won the election and that everyone on the Right had better unite behind him. As Pence did, Trump will declare all of his victories of the past year and tell the movement conservatives that — at least on effective policy — they haven’t had it this good in 30 years. And … he’ll be correct.
CBS expects Trump to make news on the international front at CPAC:
NEW: President Trump is expected to announce new sanctions against North Korea during his CPAC speech, according to released excerpts; sanctions will target 56 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses "that are assisting North Korea in evading sanctions"
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 23, 2018
On domestic policy, Trump will likely promote the tax cuts and the DACA/border wall negotiations, but if the White House has done its job, they’ll prepare a speech heavy with attacks on the media. The mood here about the mainstream media is angry and frustrated, especially after the CNN public beating on gun control Wednesday night. The media always makes for a good target at CPAC, but the anger seems more palpable and acute this year. No one has to talk Trump into attacking the media anyway, but he could make that his main point and announce a broad amnesty in the same speech, and the attendees would carry him out of the ballroom on their shoulders.
By the way, if talks about the Parkland school shooting at all, this might be a preview of his remarks:
BREAKING: Trump criticizes Florida deputy who didn't confront school shooter: `He certainly did a poor job'
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 23, 2018
Updates will go to the top in reverse chronological order, as usual. Follow along on C-SPAN or on CPAC’s live Facebook video below, although you may want to pop this out into another tab if you’re following along with the updates.