President Donald Trump on Friday sought to rally disparate strands of conservative activists and Republicans behind him by hailing the “historic movement” that led to his election and by promising, “I will continue to fight for you.”
Trump delivered an address that echoed his campaign stump speech to solidify his support at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference run by the American Conservative Union, where he was greeted with a roar as he came onstage.
“The victory and the win were something that really was dedicated to a country and people that believe in freedom, security and the rule of law. Our victory was a victory and a win for conservative values,” Trump said.
And he redefined the Republican Party that he now runs as the embodiment of the economic nationalism of America First. “The core conviction of our movement is that we are a nation that put and will put its own citizens first,” he told the standing-room-only hall.
Trump also continued his attacks on the news media, complaining about critical coverage as “fake news” by “dishonest reporters.”
More than 9,000 people registered for the CPAC meeting at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., said Keith Zeig, executive director of McLaughlin & Associates, which is conducting the group’s straw poll.
Trump delivered a call to action in a speech in which he freely ad-libbed from prepared remarks. “The era of empty talk is over, it’s over. Now is the time for action,” he said.
Trump drew applause as he ticked off his plans: building a wall on the southern border; rounding up “bad dudes” in the country illegally; renegotiating trade deals; bringing back manufacturing jobs; slashing federal regulation; lowering taxes; and keeping out “radical Islamic terrorists.”
Trump even brought up his defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and her description of some of his supporters as “deplorables.” The crowd promptly chanted “Lock her up.”
Trump also dismissed people protesting the plans to repeal and replace Obamacare at Republican town hall meetings.
“The people that you’re watching, they’re not you,” Trump said. “Many of them are the side that lost, you know, they lost the election.”
Later Friday, Trump met with a persistent critic during his campaign, Ohio Gov. John Kasich. After the White House meeting, Kasich, who was a candidate in the Republican primaries, said that “it’s sort of like being on an airplane: You want to root for the pilot.”
He said he shared ideas about changes to the health care law, and that Trump listened carefully and had a positive response.