Trump Hits ‘RINO’ Critics, Hints at Possible 2024 Bid in CPAC Speech

US
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., February 28, 2021. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

Former president Trump disavowed speculation that he would start a third party on Sunday, in his first public speech since leaving office at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Trump also spent much of the speech slamming the Biden administration’s immigration policies and calling out the so-called “Republicans in name only” — those who supported his impeachment and criticized his fomenting of the Capitol Hill riot.

“We need Republican leaders with spines of steel, we need strong leadership,” Trump said. “We cannot have leaders who show more passion condemning their fellow Americans than they have ever shown for standing up to democrats, the media, and the radicals who want to turn America into a socialist country.”

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Trump then listed all seven senators who voted to convict him, saying “the Democrats don’t have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, [and] Pat Toomey.”

The former president also named the ten House lawmakers who voted to impeach, singling out “the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney, how about that.”

“Hopefully they’ll get rid of her with the next election,” Trump said. “Get rid of them all.”

While he trained much of his fire on fellow Republicans, he also attacked President Joe Biden on the grounds that he is turning the U.S. into a “sanctuary nation.” While administration officials have warned migrants not to attempt to cross into the U.S., illegal border crossings from Mexico rose in recent weeks. Some migrants have cited the perception of more lenient immigration policies as the reason for crossing.

“We did such a good job,” Trump said of his immigration policies. “Nobody’s ever seen anything like we did, and now [Biden] wants it all to go to hell.”

Trump added, “Joe Biden has triggered a massive flood of illegal immigration into our country…We’re one country, we can’t afford the problems of the world, as much as we’d love to.”

“Joe Biden’s decision to cancel border security has singlehandedly launched a youth migrant crisis that is enriching child smugglers, vicious criminal cartels, and some of the most evil people on the planet,” Trump said. “The Biden administration has put the vile coyotes back in business.”

Since Trump’s defeat in November, some Republicans have supported the creation of a third party as a vehicle for the former president. However, Trump began his speech by mocking the notion that he would split off from the Republican party.

“You know they kept saying, ‘he’s going to start a brand new party.’ We have the Republican Party: it’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before,” Trump said.

“I am not starting a new party. That was fake news,” the former president added. “Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Let’s divide our vote so that we can never win.”

However, Trump indicated he could run for president in 2024, and again implied that he had not lost the election to Biden.

“Actually as you know they just lost the White House,” Trump said, referring to Democrats. “I might even decide to beat them for a third time.”

Circling back to claims of election fraud, Trump called to advance policies to strengthen election integrity.

Trump has refused to publicly concede losing to Biden, instead alleging that Democrats stole the election via widespread voter fraud. However, allies of the former president failed to prove the allegations in court, and in some cases did not challenge the legality of enough votes to change the results of the election.

“Our election process is worse than that, in many cases, of a third world country,” Trump said, complaining that “The Supreme Court didn’t have the guts or the courage to do anything” regarding his fraud claims.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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