I am going to try and keep this brief - mostly because I am busy this morning and partly because I don't think I don't believe a speech given over three years before anyone casts a ballot in a primary means all that much. But it's the first time we've REALLY heard from Donald Trump since he left office in January, so it deserves some level of attention and examination.
So here goes nothing. I watched Trump's speech yesterday, given at CPAC 2021 in Orlando and I liked the first 20 minutes or so and didn't really like the remainder.
First things first, Trump pulled an ultimate Chad move and didn't start his speech until almost an hour after he was scheduled to talk. Then he came out and let the crowd go crazy while "Proud to be an American" played in the background. Not just part of the song, he waited until the ENTIRE song ended. He is a consummate showman and knows how to rev up his audience.
After the song ended, Trump started off his speech in the only way he could have:
This made me audibly laugh because it was such a Trump way to start a speech and it was exactly what his audience was probably thinking in the moment.
Trump then went on to hammer the Biden administration for refusing to pressure the teachers' unions to open schools back up all across America:
This was VERY GOOD! School re-openings are a kitchen table issue in this country and something that most Americans agree with! Republicans should be making re-openings and school choice their bread and butter issue for the next two years.
Trump then put to rest the idea that he would be forming a new political party:
This is also VERY GOOD! At this time, creating a third party would only result in helping more Democrats get elected by splitting the "conservative" vote. That would be . . . less than good.
Trump then went on to suggest that he MIGHT consider running again to beat the Democrats for a . . . third time:
Ok, I mean you knew he wasn't going to come out and talk about how he lost, fair and square. And it was also unlikely that he chose to speak yesterday to let everyone know he was retiring from politics. So this was expected and still pretty funny.
Then Trump touched on another issue that I think more Americans agree with him on than they are willing to admit:
That is pretty classic Trump, taking a sledgehammer to an issue that most GOP members are afraid to tackle head-on.
After that, the speech turned specifically to the results of the 2020 election and his belief that he was robbed of a victory. I do not want to go into that debate again (I know some of you have very steadfast beliefs here) and I wish Trump hadn't either:
He made several other references to the election results and there is no denying that election security is something the GOP should be focusing on NOW rather than waiting until six months before an election. That being said, I think the second half of the speech felt like it was a rehash of everything he had been saying for the months following November 3rd. There is no changing what happened and I don't think railing on the election results for three years is a winning message for Trump moving forward.
His focus on the election will also give the media exactly what it is looking for: clips that the can use to distract from the good points he made earlier on in his speech. So, that's ultimately why I think it was a mistake to focus so heavily on "stop the steal".
Sorry, Bossman, just my take.
That being said, I am trying to remember who this speech was for and where it was given. This speech wasn't designed to sway swing voters in 2024 - it was given at CPAC, to his adoring loyalists and he was giving them what THEY wanted. This speech was given more to re-establish Trump's own hold on the GOP than it was to help broaden the coalition and win back some of the suburban wine moms he lost over the past four years.
This is probably a savvy political move, given that the GOP has a fair amount of rising stars and in the straw poll taken at the conference, Trump was not the only person to draw considerable support for the 2024 nomination:
Ron DeSantis at 21 percent? That's not nothing, even if CPAC was hosted by DeSantis' own home state of Florida. So yeah, 3+ years out from the Republican primaries, this speech probably makes sense. I just hope that 45 can focus on things other than the 2020 election for the next four years - because the American people have short memories and I think that this message will become stale sooner rather than later.
Seriously? That's not even that big of a criticism!
Oh well. Happy Monday and God Bless America.