National Harbor, MD – Former President Donald Trump addressed the crowd at the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past Saturday in National Harbor.

“Four years ago I told you that if Crooked Joe Biden got to the White House our borders would be abolished, our middle class would be decimated, and our communities would be plagued by bloodshed, chaos, and violent crime. We were right about everything.”

This proclamation set the stage for a wide-ranging discourse, peppered with Trump’s infamous rhetorical flourishes, that dissected the present geopolitical and domestic landscape under President Joe Biden. Trump’s remarks reaffirmed his focus on topics that earned him acclaim during his term, and for which the Biden administration has been criticized.

The first such issue was foreign policy — specifically the United States’ relationship with Russia, China, Mexico, and countries in the Middle East. Trump referenced the current era of international instability which emerged during Biden’s term, including the ill-famed withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the eruption of war in Israel, and the wide array of national security concerns surrounding China.

“Joe Biden will soon have us losing World War III,” Trump warned, reiterating again, “We won’t be in World War III — we will be losing World War III.”

Peace, he claimed, would be restored by reinstating his strategy of exercising bargaining power and firm but respectful negotiation to achieve foreign policy outcomes benefiting the U.S., all the while upholding the diplomatic relationships that preempt armed conflict.

Trump went on to tout his own foreign policy achievements using this method, including leveraging the U.S. military’s strength to eradicate ISIS, his successful diplomatic engagements with China and Russia, facilitating discussions between North and South Korea, and brokering a deal with Mexico to quell the flood of migration over the countries’ shared southern border.

Drawing parallels to his presidential campaign in 2016, Trump utilized migration across the southern border as the second primary issue with which to critique the Biden administration during his remarks. Trump criticized the current state of affairs, comparing it unfavorably to the situation during his presidency.

“We had the safest border three years ago, the safest border in the history of our country. Now we have the worst border in the history of the world,” he lamented. 

Trump claimed that his administration had effectively solved the border problem to the extent that it was a non-issue by 2020, a stark contrast to what he described as a border crisis “20 times worse than in 2016” taking place at the southern border today.

To address this problem again as president, Trump proposed a continuation of the policies instituted under his administration that he claims were effective in reducing and deterring unfettered migration.

He highlighted his implementation of the policy wherein individuals apprehended for unlawfully crossing the southern border were relocated to Mexico pending the adjudication of their asylum petitions, a strategy he termed “catch and release into Mexico.” Trump went on to propose expansive deportations of individuals with violent criminal backgrounds who have entered the U.S. in the past several years under the Biden administration.

“The largest deportation in the history of our country. We have no choice.” he said.

Dismissing potential criticism from the media and emphasizing the necessity of such measures to protect American lives, he went on:

“It’s not a nice thing and I hate to say it, and those clowns in the media will say ‘oh he’s so mean’ – no, they’re killing our people, they’re killing our country. They’re killing our people — we have no choice.”

Following Trump’s usual approach, this was not the only time he directed criticism at the media’s probable depiction of his remarks that day. He quipped that the news would describe his speech as “rambling” in an effort to make him seem cognitively impaired.

Addressing his tendency to deviate from prepared remarks, Trump stated, “A very smart person can go through various stories and always come back and conclude everything,” asserting that his unscripted diversions made his speeches more engaging, which the crowd responded affirmatively to.

Looking ahead to November, Trump described the 2024 election as “Judgment Day” for the current administration, framing it as an opportunity to end the “corrupt reign” of his opponents and usher in a “bright new future for America.”

His response to the indictments against him, which he suggested are bolstering his support in the polls, was an emphatic embrace of the democratic process to vindicate him. Trump expressed that reclaiming the presidency on election day will allow him to seek retribution through achievement. 

“Your liberty will be our reward and the unprecedented success of the United States of America will be my ultimate and absolute revenge.”

He reiterated: “Success will be our revenge.”

From critiquing the Biden administration’s approach to foreign policy to highlighting challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump’s remarks at CPAC 2024 served not only as a critique of the current state of affairs, but a clarion call to his base. He aimed at rallying support by drawing on his administration’s past achievements and outlining a path forward that hinges on strong leadership and decisive action.

Overall, his remarks provided voters and politicos with a glimpse into his campaign strategy heading into possibly another general election with Trump at the top of the Republican ticket – positioning himself as the controversial but effective antidote to current political uncertainty, and promising a resurgence of what he defines as American greatness.

Olivia DeMarco is an Editorial Associate for Broad + Liberty. She previously served as a legislative aide in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Temple University.

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