After continuously hinting this year at a 2024 presidential run, Trump handily took 70% of the votes that were announced Sunday afternoon by CPAC – an increase of 15% from the ballots he received in February at the hypothetical 2024 Republican primary matchup straw poll at CPAC in Orlando, Florida.
"I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your incredible support," Trump expressed after hearing the results – just moments before he delivered the conference's keynote address, according to Fox News.
The numbers are in
Besides Trump, the only Republican who received more than 1% was Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), the runner-up at 21%.
The first-term Florida governor – who has been a staunch supporter of Trump – has resonated as a champion of conservatives over the past year for standing against Democrats and their controlling COVID lockdowns/restrictions, and he found himself far above other potential candidates on a second 2024 ballot question that left Trump off the hypothetical ballot.
"DeSantis grabbed 68% support on that question, with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 5%," Fox News revealed. "Donald Trump Jr. and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were both at 4%, with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem at 3%, [and] no one else topped 2%."
At the Orlando CPAC earlier this year, Desantis grabbed 43% and Noem took 11%.
Another one of the 20 questions from the online app survey asked about Trump's job performance during his four years in office, with 88% of the 1,525 strongly approving and 10% somewhat approving.
Other questions on the secret ballot got a sense of conservatives' sentiments on cancel culture, border security and critical race theory.
Let the speech begin…
Besides the straw poll results, the most anticipated event of the three-day CPAC was Trump's speech to an invigorated crowd desperate to pick up where the former president left off and eager to put an end to the economic and national security policies under the Biden administration.
"With the help of everyone here today, we will defeat the radical Left, the socialists, Marxists and the critical race theorists," Trump proclaimed to the Dallas audience, according to a separate Fox News report. "We will secure our borders, we will stop left-wing cancel culture, we will restore free speech and free elections and we will make America great again."
He clearly anticipated a part 2 to his "Make America Great Again" campaign – starting in Texas.
"The people in this room have been some of the staunchest and fiercest supporters [of] the greatest political movement in the history of our country," the former president continued.
Texas back step under Biden…
Trump wasted no time addressing how Biden – who reversed his predecessor's border polices and stopped construction of the border wall – has failed at the border.
"Joe Biden has brought this country to the brink of ruin – even right here in Texas," the keynote speaker lamented, according to Newsmax. "We are the epicenter of a border and migration crisis unlike anything anyone has ever seen before in the history of our country. At the same time, they have totally obliterated your energy industry – I told you."
He reminded Texans of the unprecedented progress he made at its southern border with Mexico during his term in the Oval Office.
"Under my administration, we achieved a historic reduction in illegal immigration," Trump added. "We ended the horrible catch-and-release [policy] where we catch a criminal and release him into our country. We actually said, 'Nope, it's called stay in Mexico.'
"It worked very well, and it had the support of Mexico," he continued. "… We reduced drugs pouring across our border by the highest percentage ever in the history of our country. ... We shut down the migrant caravans. We dealt a crippling blow to MS-13. We deported criminal aliens by the thousands and thousands, and we built almost 500 miles of border wall."
Trump detailed how open borders from Texas to California have ushered in a crisis throughout America and blamed Biden for "helping drive an unprecedented crime wave."
"The bloodshed and violence in these cities is reaching epidemic proportions," the 45th president warned. "Homicides are up 42% in Los Angeles, 37% in Philadelphia, 68% in Atlanta and over 500% in Portland over this time last year. ... In New York City, crime is out of control. It's at record levels with nobody being prosecuted except, of course, innocent Republicans are being prosecuted."
More failed and detrimental policies
In addition, Trump argued that Democrat-led policies regarding law enforcement, gun rights, critical race theory and election laws are destroying the country.
"They are hard at work to abolish the First Amendment as well," the GOP leader asserted. "Probably all amendments, when you get right down to it. Why not? The radical Left and big tech's attack on free speech is unlawful, it's unconstitutional, and it is completely un-American. To protect the constitutional rights and liberties of every citizen – this week I filed a major class action [lawsuit]. We are suing Facebook, Twitter and Google."
After reminding the conservative crowd about Democrats' campaign to "defund the police" and the skyrocketing crime and violence it spurred, Trump also touched on Americans' constitutional right to protect themselves.
"The same far-left Democrats who are defunding police are also leading an all-out crusade to strip you – the law-abiding citizens of America – of your God-given Second Amendment rights," the outspoken Republican pointed out, as reported by Breitbart News. "I preserved that right 100%, and you think that was easy? It wasn't easy. There was so much pressure. Republicans must never waver in demanding that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
'I told you so...'
The topic of law and order brought on another "I told you so" moment.
"As Trump spoke of the Democrats' efforts to disarm Americans he said, 'I told you, I told you,'" Breitbart News reported. "This is the same message he shared with thousands of Americans who attended his June 26, 2021, Wellington, Ohio, rally, where he said, 'If you remember, when I was campaigning against Joe Biden I said, 'They are going to take away your guns' and 'Your Second Amendment is under siege.'"
He also brought up Democrats trying to manipulate, intimidate and pack the U.S. Supreme Court, recalling how they threated to impeach then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh while noting their attempts to do away with the filibuster so that the radical left can dominate the bench.
"The Democrats are vicious to the Supreme Court and to Kavanaugh," Trump impressed. "They are playing the ref. We're getting some unexpected rulings because the nine justices do not want to be packed, and the Democrats are in a position to pack the court – and they don't want to be packed."
Doubling down on the election results
Trump also renewed his allegations that widespread election fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election.
"You say election fraud, you get cancelled," Trump said. "Unfortunately, this was an election where the person who counts the vote was far more important than the candidate. It's a disgrace to our nation, and we are truly being scorned and disrespected all over the world."
Critical race theory was also addressed.
"Whoever thought we would be using that term," Trump said, indicating how it is used by Democrats to spur racial tensions for its own gain and that it should have no place in America's institutions.
Trump, who was condemned for blaming China for spreading the coronavirus via a laboratory, also brought up his role in successfully fighting the pandemic.
"For all of those finally realizing what a great job we did with respect to the pandemic – including rapidly filling the cupboards that were left 'bare' by the previous administration, in both the federal government and states – please also remember that it was the Trump administration that produced the vaccine in less than nine months – many years ahead of anticipated schedule," Trump reminded an appreciative crowd.
"Biden and his group just used our plan of distribution, which had started long before he took office. Without the vaccine, the entire world would have ended up like it was in 1917, the Spanish Flu, where as many as 100 million people died. While we get no credit for this from the fake news media, the people know – that's why I got 75 million votes!"