OXON HILL, Md.—Former President Donald Trump spoke about his accomplishments in the White House and his future plans in a speech Saturday to conservatives gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, just outside the nation’s capital.
“We are going to complete the mission,” Trump said in the closing speech at CPAC. “We are going to see this battle through to ultimate victory. We are going to make America great again.”
Trump spoke about the changes in the Republican Party since he won the presidency in 2016 and told the crowd that things would not go back to the way they were.
“The Republican Party was ruled by freaks, neocons, open border zealots, and fools,” the former president said. “We’re never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.”
The former president said that the country would no longer be ruled by “entrenched political dynasties.”
Americans would be put first “every single time, every single day,” as they were during his presidency, Trump said. He then went after the “deep state,” which he pledged to “totally obliterate.”
“I will fire the unelected bureaucrats and the shadow forces. I will put the people back in charge,” he said.
He doubled down on this theme of standing for the American people against bureaucracy and insiders.
“I am your warrior, I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution,” Trump said. “I will totally obliterate the deep state.”
Throughout his speech, Trump contrasted his foreign policy with the policies of other presidents. He argued for foreign policy restraint but with a greater emphasis on defending the American homeland and border. Trump said he was the only president in modern history “to not have any new wars.”
“I finished some old ones,” he said.
Donald Trump later explained that he destroyed the ISIS caliphate. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi declared victory over ISIS in 2017.
Trump said that the border was secure during his presidency but has become porous, with millions of illegal immigrants coming into the country since President Joe Biden took office. He also lamented the escalating number of deaths caused by fentanyl, which cartels and human traffickers smuggle across the border.
“Instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars to defend the borders of distant foreign countries, under my leadership we will defend our borders first,” Trump said.
The 45th president warned that the country can’t survive the crises that the Unites States now faces without a major political pivot.
“This is the final battle,” Donald Trump said. “They know it, I know it, you know it, everybody knows it. This is it. Either they win, or we win and if they win, we no longer have a country.”
Immediately before the former president’s speech, CPAC organizers announced the results of the annual straw poll. Donald Trump won the poll for the 2024 presidential election with 62% of the vote. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took second place with 20%, and in third place was Perry Johnson, a businessman who ran for Michigan governor, with 5% of the vote.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley came in with 3% of the vote and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy came in at 1%.
In the vice presidential straw poll, Kari Lake, the Republican Arizona gubernatorial nominee in 2022, took first place with 20% of the vote. DeSantis came in second with 14% of the vote.
CPAC is the largest annual national gathering of conservative activists and ran through Saturday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, just outside Washington in the National Harbor development of Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. He is also the author of the book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.” This first appeared in the Daily Signal.