By WILL STEAKIN and LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(ORLANDO, Fla.) — In a sprawling hour-and-a-half keynote address closing out the Conservative Political Action Conference Sunday night, former President Donald Trump delivered a speech filled with many of the same false election fraud claims that he has repeated since losing the election to President Joe Biden in November.
His false claims that the election was “rigged” is what Democrats and many others have said led to the deadly Capitol attack carried out by his supporters not even two months ago, which led to his second impeachment.
Trump, at his first speech since leaving office in January, also looked to reassert his grip on the Republican Party and portray of sense of unity — a message that was immediately muddied by the fact that he also repeatedly targeted members of his own party, including at one point listing every Republican who supported impeaching him for his role inciting the Capitol attack, which the former president did not address.
Trump also painted a dire and fearful portrait of America under the Biden administration during his speech Sunday.
He also continued to tease a run in 2024 throughout the speech, rejected the idea of starting a third party, railed over Biden’s immigration policy in typical harsh and at times vicious ways, attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, and in the end, told his supporters the “only way” to help Republicans win is to donate to his Super PAC.
TRUMP PUSHING FALSE ELECTION CLAIMS
Throughout his speech, Trump dug into his election grievances, accusing Democrats of using the deadly COVID-19 pandemic to “cheat” the election, and repeatedly hammered the Supreme Court for not intervening and overturning the results.
“This election was rigged, and the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it,” Trump said, which led the crowd to loudly chant, “You won, you won,” to which Trump responded, “We did.”
“They rejected it,” Trump continued, attacking the High Court. “They should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to our country. They didn’t have the guts or the courage to make the right decision.”
If some in the Republican Party hoped the former president would move on from 2020, Trump quickly made clear he plans to continue to stoke the false election claims well into the future, pushing many of the same debunked claims he pushed in the lead up to the deadly Capitol attack on Jan. 6.
TRUMP CONTINUES TO TEASE 2024 RUN
As he’s done since leaving office, Trump continued to tease a run in 2024 — without explicitly announcing a run.
“Actually, as you know, they just lost the White House, but that’s one of those things. But who knows, who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time, okay?” Trump said to cheers and chants of “USA” and “four more years.”
“With your help, we will take back the House, we will win the Senate and then, a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House,” Trump said at CPAC Sunday. “And I wonder who that will be. I wonder who that will be. Who, who, who will that be, I wonder?”
SLAMS BIDEN AS PUTTING ‘AMERICA LAST’
Trump also came out swinging against Biden — a rather unprecedented move by a former president just over a month out of office — and the president’s administration on topics ranging from COVID-19 and school closures to energy and immigration policies.
“Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any President in modern history. That’s true,” he said. “Already, the Biden administration has proven that they are anti-jobs, anti-family, anti-borders, anti-energy, anti-women and anti-science. In just one short month, we have gone from ‘America first’ to ‘America last.’”
The former president called on Biden to “get the schools open and get them open now,” calling closures “a scandal of the highest order and one of the most craven acts by any president in our lifetimes.”
However, most schools have been closed for in-person learning for almost a year now, when they first shut doors under Trump. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines two weeks ago on how to open schools safely.
He also took a swipe at Dr. Anthony Fauci, now Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19, whom Trump shared a rocky relationship with in office.
“First, Fauci said you don’t need masks, no masks, no good. Then all of a sudden — now he wants double masks,” Trump said.
TRUMP TOUTS ‘TRUMPISM’
Speaking to the future of the Republican Party and drawing differences from Democrats, Trump said his movement is “based on love for America and the belief that this is an exceptional nation blessed by God.”
He also said he’s hearing the term “Trumpism” a lot and defined it as “great deals” and “strong borders.”
“Many people ask, what is Trumpism? A new term being used more and more. I’m hearing that term more and more. I didn’t come up with it,” Trump said with a smile. “But what it means is great deals, great trade deals.”
“It means no riots in the streets. It means law enforcement. It means very strong protection for the second amendment and the right to keep and bear arms,” he said, seven weeks after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
TRUMP REJECTS IDEA OF FORMING A NEW PARTY, ATTACKS IMPEACHMENT-SUPPORTING MEMBERS
Trump said he was “not interested” in starting new parties, despite, he said, some news reports saying he was considering leaving the GOP.
He also asserted his place at the top of the party.
“We have the Republican Party,” Trump said to roaring applause. “It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party. That was fake news. Fake news, no. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? ‘Let’s start a new party, let’s divide our vote so that you can never win.’ No, we’re not interested in that.”
While simultaneously trying to push that the Republican Party was “united,” the former president also continued his revenge tour, listing the names of the Republicans who voted for impeachment to boos from the crowd.
“The Democrats don’t have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey. And in the House, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez — that’s another beauty — Fred Upton, Jamie Herrera Beutler, Peter Meyer, John Katko, David Valadao and the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting: Liz Cheney,” Trump said.
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