Donald Trump came out of political exile on Saturday to criticize President Joe Biden and NATO over the crisis in Ukraine and reiterates his false claims about a stolen 2020 election in a speech to ordinary Republicans.
Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, the former president spent 86 minutes repeating many of his favorite lines of applause, attacking the “radical left” and his “witch hunt” against him.
As massive explosions lit up the skies over Ukraine’s capital Kiev, Trump blamed the Russian invasion of his neighbor for Biden’s “weakness” and praised President Vladimir Putin’s intellect.
“As everyone understands, this horrific disaster would never have happened if our election had not been manipulated,” he said to thunderous applause.
NATO, he said, “looked “the opposite of smart” in hitting Russia with sanctions rather than resolve to “blowing Russia to pieces — at least psychologically”.
“The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course is smart,” he continued. “But the real problem is that our leaders are so stupid.”
After being largely out of the public eye for a year, Trump’s ecstatic reception left little doubt that the Republican Party remains under the spell of the twice-imposed president for one term.
There were chants of “four more years” from the sea of supporters in red “Make America Great Again” hats, clapping at command as Trump ranted against “wakeful tyranny” and “cancel culture”.
The crowd cheered for the 75-year-old headliner who dismissed the Democrats’ claims as “bullshit” by the 75-year-old headliner — and for his claim that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg “used to come to the White House and kiss me.” ass.”
There were nods to a possible run in 2024 – “we’ve done it twice and we’ll do it again,” he claimed, mistakenly rewriting his 2020 defeat to Biden as a win – though he left the crowd guessing whether he will personally challenge Biden to a rematch.
‘Fight like hell’
CPAC, the country’s largest conservative gathering, usually offers valuable insight into the direction Republicans want to take in the coming months.
Organizers said Trump was expected to present a forward-looking “vision for America” as Republicans aim to take back control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.
Instead, he dwelled on his 2020 election loss and his false claims that he had been robbed by widespread voter fraud, urging the mob to “fight like hell” or face the destruction of their country. to see.
It was similar to the rhetoric that inspired a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, for which he was punished with his second charge.
His comments came as Russian missiles began pounding the suburbs of Kiev in an escalating crisis that eventually emerged as a top talking point at CPAC.
Trump called beleaguered President Volodymyr Zelensky “a brave man” and falsely claimed that the Ukrainian leader acquitted him of the scandal that led to his first impeachment.
While in office, Trump withheld vital military aid from the US ally when he unsuccessfully tried to pressure Zelensky to dig up political filth over the Biden family ahead of the 2020 election.
“After four years of selling out Ukraine, the defeated former president took the stage at CPAC to redouble his blatant praise for Putin as innocent Ukrainians as a shelter from bombs and missiles at the hands of Russia,” Democratic National Party spokeswoman Adonna Biel said. Committee afterwards. the speech.