Trump at CPAC: ‘I Alone Will Never Retreat’

Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to address the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Happy Monday! When not playing golf, former President Donald Trump reportedly spends much of his time brainstorming nicknames for his biggest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Bloomberg’s Nancy Cook has the scoop: “Trump, allies say, seems set on ‘Ron DeSanctimonious,’ even though others around him don’t think it’s a bullseye. Some of the new ideas the former president has entertained: ‘Ron DisHonest.’ ‘Ron DeEstablishment.’ Or even, ‘Tiny D.’”

Up to Speed

  • Speaking of DeSantis, the Florida governor walked back his prior support for privatizing Social Security and Medicare, telling Fox News on Thursday: “We’re not going to mess with Social Security as Republicans. I think that that’s pretty clear.” While in Congress, DeSantis voted in multiple nonbinding budget resolutions to raise the minimum age for retirement benefits to 70.
  • After teasing a prospective presidential bid, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Sunday he will not seek the Republican nomination in 2024. He said it’s time for the party to “move on from Donald Trump” but warned too many GOP candidates could split the primary vote in the 45th president’s favor. “There are several competent Republican leaders who have the potential to step up and lead,” Hogan said. “But the stakes are too high for me to risk being part of another multicar pileup that could potentially help Mr. Trump recapture the nomination.”

Trump/DeSantis Weekend Speeches

OXON HILL, Maryland—Many likely GOP presidential contenders are testing messages these days positioning themselves as heirs, not antidotes, to former President Donald Trump and his MAGA movement. But at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday, Trump took direct aim at those nascent campaign messages: Accept no substitutes.

“Our enemies are lunatics and maniacs,” Trump said during his marathon speech. “They cannot steer me. They cannot shake me. And they will never ever control me. And they will never ever therefore control you. At the end of the day, anyone else will be intimidated, bought off, blackmailed, or ripped to shreds. I alone will never retreat.”

For nearly two hours, Trump cast himself as the sole hope for a nation on one side beset by Democrats—who, since President Joe Biden took office, have driven America into “a Marxism state of mind, a communism state of mind”—and on the other side “a Republican Party that was ruled by freaks, neocons, globalists, open-border zealots, and fools.”

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