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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — President Trump rallied the core of the conservative activist base Saturday with a fiery address mercilessly mocking his potential Democratic presidential foes, railing against the “Washington swamp” and shaming Republican Sen. Mitt Romney for defecting on the final impeachment vote.
Closing out the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington with a speech that lasted over 90 minutes, Trump ripped into what he called the “hate-filled left-wing mob.” But in the wake of impeachment and the Russia probe, Trump praised Republicans for sticking together.
He added: “Except Romney.”
The crowd at CPAC booed Romney, R-Utah, who in 2012 won the conservative conference’s straw poll for the preferred GOP presidential nominee. But times have changed after he voted to convict Trump on the abuse of power article approved by the House.
“He got some good publicity,” Trump said. “He’s a low life.”
Trump went on to sound off on the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in deeply personal terms, hitting hard against former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whom he has dubbed “mini Mike,” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., whom he calls “Pocahontas” over her ancestry controversy.
Going after “mini Mike,” he said of Bloomberg’s debate debut, “That was probably the worst debate performance of any presidential debate.”
“Boy, did Pocahontas destroy him,” Trump continued, while diverting momentarily to mock Warren’s Native American ancestry test. “And look what I did to her—she went out and got a test. Remember when I said I have more Indian blood in me than she does, and I have none. Would love to have some, but I have none. … She was really mean to mini Mike, I’ll tell you, the way she treated him.”
Then Trump turned to theatrics to taunt his fellow New Yorker, as Trump said of the diminutive ex-mayor: “He’s going ‘oh, get me off the stage.’” Trump crouched behind the podium at CPAC, glancing over the top, pretending to be Bloomberg, whom he has repeatedly tormented over his height.
Trump also slammed Bloomberg for spending hundreds of millions of his personal money on his presidential race, saying he “writes checks like a drunken sailor” and has “very bad people” advising him.
“I know some of his people, they are ripping him off, they’re bad people and they are laughing all the way to the bank,” Trump said. “‘Keep running, Mike. Keep doing it Mike.'”
Trump went on to take a “poll” of the audience, asking them to “scream like hell” for the candidate “you think I should run against…in other words, because we’re going to beat him,” giving the audience the choice between Sanders and Biden.
CPAC attendees screamed louder for Sanders, giving a standing ovation.
“Joe’s not going to be running the government — he’s going to be sitting in a home somewhere,” Trump, 73, remarked after the poll, but noted in his speech that he predicted Biden, who is 77, would “have a big win” in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.
Trump also mocked Biden for his frequent campaign trail gaffes, including misstating the number of gun deaths in America during last week’s debate.
Biden campaign rapid response director Andrew Bates swiped at Trump afterward, telling Fox News: “A year from now, Joe Biden will have brought character, honor, and decency back to the White House. He’ll be rebuilding the American middle class, fighting to give every American healthcare — instead of trying to cost millions their coverage — rallying the world against climate change, and reversing Donald Trump’s repugnant and un-American immigration policies. Donald Trump, on the other hand, will be ranting on Twitter about how Deutsche Bank is refusing to give him a loan for ‘Trump Tower Moscow: The Second Try.’”
Trump also claimed he didn’t know how “dirty” D.C. would be and “how deep” the swamp would be, as he riffed on one of his favorite campaign trail rallying cries.
“I never knew the swamp was so bad. It’s really bad, but we’re winning, and we’re winning not easy. A lot of dirty people, a lot of very, very bad people–bad people,” he said. “I do think justice will be had. … Or I wouldn’t be very happy right now.”
The president went on to tout the military and their success in taking out ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, saying: “We took that son of a b— out.”
But he also defended the administration’s newly signed agreement with the Taliban as part of an effort to bring thousands of U.S. troops home from the post- 9/11 Afghanistan war.
“But American forces cannot be the policemen for the entire world—a lot of time we’re not even appreciated, taken for granted,” he said.
“We signed a deal with the Taliban so that we can hopefully begin the immediate process of finally bringing our troops back home,” Trump said. “19 years…We just signed it. We really have to thank the families and those incredible people who lost their lives.”
Trump, though, added: “The Taliban are great fighters. They’re great fighters.”
The president shifted to national security and border security, saying his administration has taken “the most aggressive action to control our borders.”
“We intend to keep radical Islamist terrorists the hell out of our country, and we’re keeping them out,” Trump said.
The president’s address to CPAC came after he gave a press conference on coronavirus at the White House earlier in the day where he assured the nation, while also announcing new travel restrictions.
During his speech, he offered help to nations affected, like Iran, saying: “All they have to do is ask.”
Trump has addressed CPAC every year since taking office in 2017.
The president’s speech follows days of panels, featuring White House officials, members of his re-election campaign, prominent Republican lawmakers and members of the conservative media making the case against socialism.
The theme at the annual conservative gathering outside Washington has been “America vs. Socialism.” The rhetoric at the event has repeatedly turned back to the current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Vice President Mike Pence also addressed CPAC, warning conservatives against socialism—saying: “Freedom works. Socialism doesn’t.”
Pence, during his CPAC appearance, rallied the crowd and made the case for Trump’s re-election.
“Elections are about choices,” Pence said, while saying the 2020 race will give voters the choice between socialism and freedom.
“The choice has never been clearer, the stakes have never been higher,” Pence said. “Men and women of CPAC, we’ve got work to do. The truth is, it won’t be enough to win the next election. We’ve got to win the next generation.”
The president’s speech comes on the day of the South Carolina primary, where former Vice President Joe Biden is hoping to salvage his campaign with a win in the state he’s long considered his firewall. Sanders has been catching up to him in the polls but has continued to trail.