Potential candidate rallies crowd

The energy was high at the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) as former President Donald Trump was welcomed to the stage for the event’s keynote speech Feb. 24, where he spoke about the upcoming election to a packed room. 

Trump began his speech by thanking CPAC’s chairman, Matt Schlapp, and his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, along with some of CPAC’s other speakers. He then spoke about his views on the state of the nation throughout Joe Biden’s presidency.

“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,” Trump said. “We were right about everything.”

Photo by Carlisle Jarnigan

According to Trump, violent crimes have risen in the United States under Biden’s leadership.

“No country can sustain what’s happening in our country,” Trump said.

The speech then shifted to focus on the upcoming election.

“These are the stakes of this election,” Trump said. “Our country is being destroyed, and the only thing standing between you and its obliteration is me. It’s true.” 

Trump emphasized his campaign’s focus on freedom.

“A vote for Trump is your ticket back to freedom,” Trump said.

He then went on to tell the crowd that he’s a “political dissident,” a term that describes someone who challenges a political or religious system, according to Merriam-Webster.

“I stand before you today not only as your past and hopefully future president, but as a proud political dissident,” Trump said.

Trump then spoke about his accomplishments from the U.S. under his former presidency, such as keeping illegal immigration limited, bringing military families back together and more. Overall, Trump’s speech emphasized one of his most quoted phrases, “Make America great again.” Trump repeated the slogan multiple times throughout his speech.

“We have to make America great again,” Trump said. “That’s our mission.”

Trump wrapped up by predicting what he thinks will happen in the upcoming election.

“We’re going to win the election. We’re going to win it big. We’re going to win it bigger than ever before,” Trump said. “We’re going to do things that nobody believed. It’s going to be more important even than 2016. We’re going to make America great again.”

Photo by Carlisle Jarnigan

Trump’s address occurred while the primary election took place in South Carolina. AP called the race, with Trump winning by a landslide against former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in her home state and taking all delegates. His South Carolina victory adds to his other recent primary wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

CPAC 2024, which describes itself on its website as the “home to the most influential gathering of conservatives in the world,” took place Feb. 23-25 in National Harbor, Maryland. Other speakers throughout the week included Vivek Ramaswamy, Kari Lake, Mike Lindell and Matt Gaetz. A complete list of speakers from CPAC can be found at www.digital.cpac.org/speakers-dc2024. 

Jarnigan is the asst. news editor and Smith is the news editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow Smith on X

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