COLORADO SPRINGS: It has been almost a week since President Trump addressed a record crowd at CPAC 2019. All the usual suspects have since made their commentary, for and against, the President. Unfortunately is mostly opinion based and predictable writing that says more about the writer than the subject.
If you take a step back from the specific issues that the pundits like to focus on, you begin to understand why President Trump retains his base. Even after two years of heavy pounding by the Left. And why the odds are stacked in his favor to win re-election in 2020.
First, if you have the time—and it is two hours long—watch the speech itself. The American Conservative Union has posted the entire speech:
By focusing on each needle and leaf, the Left has missed the forest.
A sample of headlines offered up as “Top Stories” by Google illustrate the point:
- “The real reason Trump is pushing a free speech order on college campuses”—CNN (as if the First Amendment itself isn’t reason enough);
- “Stephen Colbert Slams Trump’s Epic CPAC Speech”—NYT (as if Colbert is something more than a comedian);
- “The most bizarre moments from Donald Trump’s CPAC Speech”—Guardian News (carefully edited three minutes out of 120).
Setting the stage
The president’s speech was scheduled to begin at 11:30. By 11:20, the Secret Service has sealed entry to the auditorium. One could leave, but not enter or re-enter. There were more than 10,000 attendees at CPAC this year. And they were all packed into the auditorium.
More than half were under 25 and, for a large percentage, this was their first CPAC .
The audience was standing in anticipation. Like most politicians, the president was late. Fifty minutes late. The ACU showed a couple of videos to keep the crowd entertained. Thirty minutes or so in, people began to sit down.
When Matt Schlapp, CPAC organizer, came onstage and began speaking people slowly realized that he was introducing the president.
A few minutes later the President appeared. In an instant, any impatience or disappointment disappeared.
The man and his message
In the background, the music was Lee Greenwood. Trump hugged the onstage flag. He took the applause and cheering for the whole length of the song. It’s clear he was waiting for the song to end.
He began speaking. After an hour was up, he asked the organizer Schlapp if he could keep going. The President spoke little more than two hours in total.
In his two-hour monologue, he covered a wide range of familiar topics. Among them:
- Winning, trade and tariffs.
- The Russia investigation.
- The Green New Deal (“I don’t want to talk them out of the plan [Green New Deal]. I just want to be the Republican who runs against it.”)
- Immigration and the border wall.
Considering the speech as a whole, four things stand out. First, a refinement to the President’s speaking style. I first head him at FreedomFest just a few days after his announcement that he was running for president. It was his first appearance after that event.
My impression then was that Candidate Trump’s speech was stream-of-consciousness, disjointed with no discernable theme.
At CPAC, it was noticeably different.
This time he did have themes. He told stories but he came back to his main point.
Although it wasn’t ten minutes before the President says to the audience, grinning: “You know I’m off-script, right?”
Second, Donald J. Trump is smart.
The left-stream press likes to paint him as stupid, but they’ve done that to every single Republican president since Gerald Ford. (Richard Nixon wasn’t dumb, he was a “crook.”) Whether talking about the great tariff debate of 1888 under President McKinley or the facts and figures of the China trade relationship, he knows what he is talking about.
And he was talking off-the-cuff. No shifting his gaze back and forth between teleprompters. No carefully-worded and paced delivery.
This was from the head—and from the heart. This was genuine.
The third thing that came through is that Trump loves his base and they love him back.
It’s not something you can prove by a sound bite. You had to be there. It must be like that at his rallies. And why they always overflow capacity.
It’s also very obvious that he loves America. When, for example, have you ever seen any politician hug the flag the way he did?
Finally, he is humble. That may sound strange to the Left who accuse him of being an egomaniac. No one counts the “I” and “me” in his speeches. When he did praise himself, as in “They like me.” With reference to foreign leaders, he shrugged as if to say in his native New York way, “Go figure.”
Then he followed up by saying, “I’m not saying this. They are.”
He shared the stage. Hayden Williams, the young conservative recently attacked, was brought on stage. The President, after a supportive back pat, let Williams talk. As he does, President Trump called out members of the audience. A nice note is his pointing out Candice Owens, a rising young conservative and whose engagement he congratulated, and Charlie Kirk.
He said Turning Point-USA is leading a revival of American culture. He plugged Mark Levin’s TV show.
Why he’s poised to win in 2020
A lot of the conference seemed to be something of speakers rallying for 2020 and telling the audience that Trump was going to win re-election in 2020. They weren’t wrong in their reasoning. But it wasn’t enough.
It is not enough to run against something, like the Green New Deal. Awful as that is, you need a positive message to bring people out to vote for you. It’s not enough to run against someone. As whacko as some of the Democrat candidates sound, you don’t inspire by being the lesser of two evils.
Kevin McCullough at Townhall describes the electoral reasons why Trump will win bigger than in 2016. That’s not to say it’s a done deal or that a lot of work isn’t needed to make it happen. But the bottom line, reinforced from his speech at CPAC, is this: while Democrats are trying to convince you that their vision of America is the right one, Trump embraces the America that the majority of Americans know and love.
In his own words, “They have bad policies that I couldn’t sell even if I wanted to.”
Nearing the close, he said,
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “America will never be a socialist county.”
It was met by thunderous applause followed by chants of “USA.”