If anyone had thought the January 6 insurrection and subsequent second impeachment trial could have chastised Donald Trump, his CPAC speech on Sunday should have diverted them from that notion – and from any thought the former president would ever accept that his loss to President Joe Biden was fair and legitimate.
Trump’s first speech since leaving the White House was heavy with “the big lie” – the false and long-debunked claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him – that inspired the deadly uprising aimed at overcoming his loss of the election.
“I can even choose to beat [Democrats] for the third time, ”Trump said at the beginning of his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), meaning his loss to Biden was inadmissible while he teased the possibility of running again in 2024.
This comment was received with a standing ovation.
And there was a lot more where that came from.
Trump once claimed that “if we had had a fair election the results would have been very different” – even though electoral security officials in his own administration have confirmed that Biden’s victory was the result of a free and fair election.
“The election was rigged,” he later lied before attacking the Supreme Court for failing to overturn the results for him. The language eerily resembled the way he attacked then Vice-President Mike Pence during his speech just before the January 6 uprising.
“They had neither the courage nor the courage to make the right decision,” said Trump.
Trump’s lie about the rigged election was accompanied by chants of “You won! You won!”
“This election was rigged,” lies Trump and calls on the CPAC participants to sing: “You won!” you won!”
Trump then attacks the Supreme Court for failing to topple the election result for him
“They had neither the courage nor the courage to make the right decision,” says Trump pic.twitter.com/HYo4IiaWFI
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2021
Trump later claimed “there is no denying” that the electoral rules were “illegally changed”. But court after court rejected Trump’s so-called evidence that something was wrong in last November’s elections, even just last week.
It is tempting to dismiss this rhetoric as the unexplained abuse of a man without power who spends his days at his private club in Florida. But Trump could still return to the White House. A straw poll at CPAC found that he was the most hoped candidate would run more than two-to-one against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2024, even if only 68 percent of those polled said Trump should run again. A bit disappointing considering the conference was basically a weekend for him.
But even if Trump is never again an elected official, there is still a risk that Trump’s more ardent supporters will take him seriously, as they did on Jan. 6, targeting a government its leader describes as illegitimate by force.
Trump really only knows how to give a speech
Trump’s shameless and relentless push for the big lie was the main reason for his CPAC speech. The rest was basically a barely modified version of the blunt speech he had given across the country last fall, with a few additions.
One was an entire section devoted to transphobia. The alleged dangers of trans girls playing sports was a talking point among Republican lawmakers and on Fox News, and Trump included them in his speech, saying, “We must protect the integrity of women’s sports,” which resulted in a huge standing ovation .
Trump also reiterated one of the main CPAC themes by railing against “culture breakup”.
Unsurprisingly, however, the former president appeared particularly animated as he blew up Republicans who voted for his impeachment or impeachment by name.
“Get rid of them all,” he said, cheering the audience. (They seem to have lost the irony of Trump saying this at a conference on “America Uncancelled”.)
And Trump also had harsh words for Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, suggesting he would have lost his Senate seat last November without Trump’s approval. In particular, the CPAC attendees booed the mention of McConnell’s name.
Trump gets to the heart of Mitt Romney, “Little Ben Sasse”, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Tomney and all of the House Republicans who voted for his impeachment – and concludes with Liz Cheney pic. twitter. com / Me5JvoIslq
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2021
While teasing a run of 2024, Trump made no pledge to hold out. Instead, he portrayed himself as a kind of kingmaker who will work next year to have “America’s First Conservatives” elected.
Alluding to the lucrative fundraising from his refusal to admit, Trump advised fans, “There is only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect America’s first Republican Conservatives and make America great again, and that’s through Save America PAC and donaldjtrump.com. “
In all of this, Trump barely mentioned politics aside from his familiar roles: fear of “caravans” of immigrants coming to the US and trying to get coronavirus vaccine development approved.
It was no coincidence that Trump focused primarily on electoral grievances – and the Republicans who allegedly cheated on him. These are the things that are really important to Trump. And if he continues to radicalize his followers with lies about stealing power while taking revenge on those he believes wrong him, so be it, because Trump’s big lies about the elections are clearly impervious to correction and will be the core of its politics in the future.
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