Trump talks to Putin, complaints as GOP focuses on midterm victory
ORLANDO: Prominent Republicans spent three days avoiding or completely ignoring Donald Trump’s main complaints as they united behind a midterm message designed to win back voters, the former presidency were polarizing.
That changed on Saturday night.
Faced with thousands of enthusiastic activists at the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump falsely blamed his 2020 election loss on widespread voter fraud, for which there is no evidence. After Russian troops advanced on the Ukrainian capital in an offensive widely condemned by Western leaders, Trump described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “smart”.
“Of course he’s smart,” Trump said, doubling down on the Russian leader’s praise that many other Republicans have defied in the wake of the invasion. “But the real problem is that our leaders are dumb. dumb. Very stupid.”
While Trump expressed support for the Ukrainian people and called the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a “brave man”, he also noted his ties with other prominent autocrats. He specifically pointed to his friendly relations with China’s Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump then left no doubt that he would run for president for a third time in 2024, indicating that he is the most powerful voice in Republican politics. “We did it twice, and we’ll do it again,” Trump said. “We’re going to do it again for the third time.”
Until Trump’s appearance, lies about electoral fraud, the focus of last year’s convention, were a consideration among top speakers. No one has parroted Trump’s approval rhetoric towards Putin. And some prominent Republicans didn’t even mention Trump’s name.
Instead, the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, which most likely does not name Trump, is united behind an agenda that includes greater parental control of schools, opposition to pandemic-related mandates and a “wake up” culture. Involves a fierce rejection. The message from more than half a dozen elected officials, delivered to thousands of mostly white activists at an event that typically celebrates far-right rhetoric, does not mean the party has turned its back on Trumpism.
The former president was a frequent topic among some of the conference’s low-profile speakers. T-shirts promoting “Trump Won” were being sold in the hallways. And Trump is expected to be announced on Sunday the overwhelming winner of the CPAC’s 2024 presidential straw poll.
Still, convention organizer Matt Schlapp, president of the American Conservative Union, said Trump doesn’t have a complete lock on the grounds of his party.
He specifically pointed to Florida Gov.’s Ron DeSantis, who was the favorite crowd during the first three days of the four-day convention. Audience members applauded almost every time DeSantis’ name was mentioned or his picture appeared on the big screen.
“Trump has grown up,” Schlap said in an interview. 1, does he run again? And it’s overwhelming that people want her. But there is diversity of opinion.
And while Trump’s most controversial supporters were typically given low-profile speaking slots at the four-day event, they were not singled out. Rep. Major Taylor Green, R-Ga., appeared on the panel Saturday morning, hours after appearing at a convention of pro-Trump white nationalists.
Trump offered a particularly warm shout-out to Taylor Green during his speech as he ticked off Republican officials in attendance.
“I refuse to be silent,” said Taylor Greene during a brief appearance earlier in the day, as he raided “Democratic Communists.”
Despite Trump’s dominant position at the head of the Republican Party, other party leaders are increasingly optimistic, having found a forward-looking strategy to ward off pro-Trump extremism and expand the party’s appeal with Congress in control in November.
It’s essentially the same playbook that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia used last fall when he won in a swing state by avoiding Trump and his biggest complaints, including the false belief that the 2020 presidential election will take place. was largely plagued by voter fraud.
“There are people who probably haven’t voted for any of you in the presidential race and they’re really angry,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Friday. “And so I believe the pendulum is swinging for all the negatives we’ve heard.”
Democrats are clinging to paper-thin majorities in the House and Senate, and voter sentiment has swung in an ominous direction for them since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021. In an AP-NORC poll February 18-21, 70% of Americans said the country was headed in the wrong direction. At least 44% said the same in April 2021.
Some prominent Republicans seemed intent on CPAC if they didn’t help Democrats by embracing Trump.
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who tried to block certification of Biden’s election victory after the January 6 Capitol attack, brushed off questions about whether he would challenge Trump in a possible 2024 matchup.
“I’ve said I don’t plan to run for president,” Hawley said. He also declined to say whether he wants Trump to run again in 2024: “I would never advise him on this.”
Hawley also said it was a mistake for Republicans like Trump to softly praise Putin. “Putin is our enemy. Let’s be clear about that,'” Hawley said.
DeSantis, who has also refused to dismiss a 2024 presidential bid to run for Trump, did not mention the former president in his 20-minute address, instead focusing on resistance to mask and vaccine mandates.
Trump’s former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke about his work in the Trump administration, but did not repeat his recent flattering comments about Putin, calling the Russian leader “very capable” and saying that He has “a lot of respect for him”.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who is considered a potential running mate for Trump in 2024, spoke about the 2016 presidential election and baseless allegations that Democrats in power ‘spied’ on the Trump campaign. But he quickly turned to the future.
“We have some great fighters like President Donald Trump. But he is not alone. The American people are on our side,” Noem said.