Former President Donald Trump teased another run for the White House during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday, saying, “I may even decide to beat them for a third time” after dominating in the event’s 2024 straw poll.
The 45th president delivered the keynote address at the annual conference in Florida, his first major speech since leaving office in which he repeatedly suggested he would once again pursue the Republican nomination for president.
“With your help, we will win back the House, we will win the Senate, and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be,” Mr. Trump said, even referring to his wife and former First Lady Melania Trump as the “future First Lady.”
Prior to his address, former President Trump crushed his competition in CPAC’s 2024 straw poll, with 55 percent of attendees saying they would vote for him if he were to once again run for president.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came in second with 21 percent and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem with four percent. The remaining candidates, including Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, among others, all followed with less than five percent each.
Much of former President Trump’s speech involved criticisms of the current administration under President Joe Biden, including getting children back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s no reason whatsoever why the vast majority of young Americans should not be back in school immediately,” Trump said. “The only reason that most parents do not have that choice is because Joe Biden sold out America’s children to the teachers’ unions.”
“Get the schools open and get them open now,” he continued, sparking cheers and a standing ovation from attendees.
Former President Trump also addressed the issue of transgender rights, specifically biological men participating in biological women’s sports.
“What coach wants to recruit a young woman if her record could be easily broken by someone who was born a man?… I think it’s crazy. We must protect the integrity of women’s spots,” Mr. Trump said.
Throughout his speech, the former president said he won the 2020 election, accusing the Democrats of using COVID-19 to illegally change election rules and called the results “rigged”. The crowd responded in kind, chanting “you won”.
“We’re in a struggle for the survival of America as we know it,” Mr. Trump said. “Ultimately, we always win. When we do, history will show that this was the moment that we could have given up, we could have despaired, but instead we chose to keep on pushing forward. The greater the challenge and tougher the task, the more determined we must be to pull through to triumph.”