Former President Trump savaged Bush-era Republicans, globalists, and GOP “warmongers” at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday as he made his case for another shot at the White House.
“We are never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove and Jeb Bush,” he vowed. “If those opposing us succeed, our once beautiful USA will be a failed country that nobody will even recognize, an open borders, lawless filthy communist nightmare.”
The markedly sedate audience of about 1,000 people filled about 80% of the hall – far from the standing-room-only CPAC crowds that Trump has seen in the past.
“When we win in 2024, we will do it again even stronger, faster, better because now I am experienced and now I know the people of Washington,” Trump said.
Trump won CPAC’s annual straw poll by a wide margin — proof, his supporters said, that he remains the GOP’s formidable front-runner as the 2024 Republican primaries loom.
Trump was the preferred candidate of 62% of attendees inside the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md who voted in the conservative confab’s annual poll.
As he has in past years, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came in second place with 20% percent support.
Two other declared GOP candidates, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, garnered 3 and 1 percent of the vote respectively — and Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, who ran a Super Bowl ad for his long-shot campaign for the GOP nomination came in third with 5% of the vote.
Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, along with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, each had 1% of the vote to round out the tally board.
“President Trump is the leader of the party. He has momentum that no other candidate in the GOP has,” Republican consultant Alex Bruesewitz said as the results were announced.
“CPAC is more proof of that: the GOP is the Trump party now.”
Joseph Belnome, a New Jersey building inspector, said he cast his straw poll ballot for the former president.
“I already know [Trump] knows what he’s doing and when he gets in there he doesn’t have to have on-the-job training. He’s going to know exactly what to do,” Belnome, 47, told The Post.
“DeSantis is a good governor. I think he can be a good future president … I don’t think it’s his time yet. I think Trump has to finish what he started there.”
The annual convention has been markedly diminished this year. Major sponsors and speakers withdrew in recent weeks in the wake of allegations that CPAC boss Matt Schlapp groped a male staffer who was working on the GOP senate campaign of Herschel Walker in Georgia.
Schlapp, who has denied the allegation, was later served by a lawsuit from the anonymous accuser.