Former President Donald Trump spoke Sunday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in his first appearance since leaving the White House in January.
Trump — who remains the face of the Republican Party, despite losing the 2020 election — took the stage at CPAC in Florida as a crowd of supporters wearing Make America Great Again hats chanted the former president’s name.
“Do you miss me yet?” Trump started, before telling the audience that he’s going to “continue to fight right by your side.”
“I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together four years ago is far from over,” he said. “Our security and identity is at stake. No matter how much the D.C. special interests will silence us, let there be no doubt we will be victorious and be stronger and greater than ever before.”
Trump also said that his administration “stopped the child smugglers,” tipping his hat to his supporters who are QAnon followers and believe, among many other far-fetched lies, that Democrats are trafficking children.
He then repeated some of the racist lines he repeated throughout his campaigns and his presidency, calling Latinos who migrate to the country via the U.S.-Mexico border are “dangerous, dangerous predators” and COVID-19 the “China virus,” an especially egregious epithet as hate crimes against Asian Americans have risen to unprecedented levels.
Trump also bashed President Joe Biden, who is about a month into his tenure.
“We all knew that the Biden administration was going to be bad, but none of us imagined just how bad they would be, and how left they would go,” he said.
Since Biden was declared the winner of the election in November, Trump and his allies have continued to push conspiracy theories and lies about the election, claiming it was fraudulent and that Trump actually won.
On Jan. 6, violent white supremacists, militia members, QAnon believers and other Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying electoral votes and potentially harm lawmakers.
The House responded by launching an investigation into the attack and impeaching Trump on bipartisan grounds for inciting the insurrection. The Senate acquitted Trump weeks after he left office, despite some Republican senators going against their party and voting to convict Trump.
Until Sunday, the former president had not made a public appearance since he left the White House on Jan. 20, the day Biden was inaugurated.
During his speech, Trump refused to give up his lies that the election was stolen, even after the Jan. 6 violence. Falsely implying that he won the 2020 election, he teased to his supporters that he “may even decide to beat them for a third time.”
In a straw poll on Sunday, 55% of respondents at CPAC said they would vote for Trump if he ran for president again in 2024 ― showing that the former president still has significant influence over the GOP and its future. About 95% said they want the GOP to continue pushing Trump’s agenda and policies, while only 3% said the party should change direction.
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