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Parsing Trump's CPAC Speech

OK, we will get the easy part out of the way first – Yes, former President Donald J. Trump is running for president in 2024, and after listening to his remarks at CPAC you wouldn’t need our 50-years in politics to figure that one out.

But just as important as reading Trump’s intentions about running is reading where he would take the Republican Party if (or rather when) he does run, and that poses some interesting questions.


The first one is what would a Trump run mean for relations with Russia and Europe?


"He's a brave man, he's hanging in," Trump said of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in his Saturday evening remarks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, even as he caught flack for saying Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is "smart."


"The problem is not that Putin is smart, which, of course, he's smart," Trump said. "The problem is that our leaders are dumb... and so far, allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity."


"Putin is playing [President Joe] Biden like a drum and it's not a pretty thing to watch," he continued.


For those whose outrage at Trump appearing to compliment the Russian warmonger isn’t kneejerk Leftism, Trump has said much the same thing about the Red Chinese and various other of our adversaries – and it was an acknowledgement of reality, not a compliment.


Trump’s 2015 – 2016 position was that we should sit down with the Russians and discuss our interests from a position of mutual respect. After the disastrous Obama – Biden surrender of Ukraine’s territories in Crimea and Donbas, that was made impossible by the phony Russia “collusion” narrative, even if he had wanted to or tried to broker an agreement between Russia and Ukraine Trump’s hands were tied by incessant lies about Russian influence over him.


Will Trump run as a peacemaker or the tough guy who can face down Putin? While no one can predict where the current conflict resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine will go, whatever happens it will certainly cast a shadow over the 2024 election and at this point Trump has positioned himself to play either role.


During his remarks Trump painted a dim view of the country at present, saying that the streets are "drenched in blood," and that a "radical left zealot" has been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Trump said the United States military was "humiliated" in its exit from Afghanistan.


"You could take the five worst presidents in history, and they wouldn't have done the damage President Joe Biden has done in such a short time."


"Joe Biden has turned calm into chaos," he said. "Stability into anarchy."


Trump’s recitation of the disastrous state of our economy and lack of domestic tranquility was the most persuasive part of his remarks, and translating America’s lack of economic stability, energy security and law and order into votes should be the foundation stones of a Trump 2024 campaign.


But Trump being Trump he also had to get in some jabs at opponents within the Republican Party. He bashed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and RINOs in general, and while that played well to the CPAC crowd, our CHQ friends among it, we wonder how that helps Trump in 2024.


Trump was at his strongest when he attacked Biden over rising inflation, illegal immigration at the Mexican border and liberal institutions pushing “wokeness” and cancel culture, but the time spent on reciting the grievances about the 2020 election was from our perspective somewhat wasted.


While no one is saying we should ignore or not try to make sure the theft of the 2020 election isn’t repeated in 2024, elections are fundamentally about the future, and “I was robbed” is a backward-looking, not forward-looking message.


Plus, more than 40% of Americans do not believe that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election, reciting the claims of voter fraud without evidence, although there is plenty of it, won’t convince any undecided voters – better to spend that time talking about closing the southern border, getting inflation under control and getting people back to work and reestablishing American world leadership.


"Joe Biden has turned calm into chaos and stability into anarchy," would make a great campaign slogan for Trump, if he could stick to that script.


When former President Trump said, “We did it twice, and we’ll do it again. We’re going to be doing it again a third time,” the crowd erupted into cheers of “Four more years!” showing that the grassroots of the conservative movement are ready for another Trump campaign, now it is up to Mr. Trump to give them a campaign on the issues that are worthy of their loyalty and enthusiasm.


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