The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) held its annual conference at the Gaylord Resort Hotel and Convention Center from Wednesday February 27- Saturday March 2nd 2019 with a crowd that included over 10,000 Trump lovers from around the country. CPAC is an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and politicians from across the country which was founded in 1974 by the American Conservative Union at which time Ronald Reagan gave the inaugural keynote speech.
By: Lieba Nesis
CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp has become an increasingly powerful force in the conservative movement as he welcomed Trump to the convention in 2011 years before he announced his candidacy. The Gaylord Resort during these four days morphs into “Trump Country” where attendees proudly don their “Make America Great Again Hats” without fear of retribution. This is the only conference of its kind and it continues to gain traction in an increasingly polarizing political environment. While the theme was “What Makes America Great” with an emphasis on the radical socialist agenda that has overtaken the formerly centrist Democratic Party this was undoubtedly a chance for fellow conservatives to relish the economic and foreign policy accomplishments of Trump.
The week began with an Activism Boot Camp and an official program that started on Thursday where Governor Scott Walker, Col. Ollie North and Mike Lindell from “MyPillow” enthralled attendees. Lindell spoke of his former crack cocaine and alcohol addiction and how Jesus had saved him the same way Trump saved America. Lindell, whose commercials on television continually flood the airwaves, received a standing ovation and enormous press coverage. Thursday night, “Turning Point USA”, a highly influential conservative student organization headed by Charlie Kirk and Communications Director Candace Owens hosted the trendiest party of the week entitled “AmericaFest” at a small bar where Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle and Ted Cruz roused the young crowd with their rhetoric.
College kids were clamoring to get selfies with Trump Jr. who had to be escorted out by Secret Service as Guilfoyle encouraged the crowd to chant “Trump, Trump, Trump” and show appreciation to the first family. “Turning Point USA” has become an increasingly powerful force on campuses around the country allowing students with like-minded opinions to join forces. The group has reached more than 1,000 school campuses, held more than 5,000 events and conducted over 500,000 face-to-face conversations.
There were also numerous sponsored events including a panel on how anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism and a threat to National Security. As the Democratic Party has become increasingly antagonistic towards Israel and its policies the conservative movement has become aligned with Israel manifested by the dozens of orthodox Jews at this conference who gathered to hear numerous pro-Israel panels-somewhat akin to AIPAC.
Combating Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and the new policies of the left which advocate for late term abortion, free education and health care and getting rid of our carbon footprint in drastic new ways under the “Green New Deal” was the primary focal point of the conference. Vice President Pence gave an atypically fiery speech in which he compared the socialist Democrats to the oppressive Maduro regime. Similarly, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow called on conservative activists to put socialism on trial and convict it.
The nighttime activities were similarly political with a Shabbat dinner for Young Jewish Conservatives at the Marriott where hundreds of Jewish students listened attentively to Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin discuss the importance of proactively trying to make a difference and how each vote could impact an election-as he claimed victory by the single-most narrow margin. During the question and answer portion there were a number of attendees who asked Bevin if he could secure Kentucky Derby tickets for them to which he politely responded they should contact his office.
The hottest party on Friday night was hosted by Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage and British political editor Raheem Kassam on the rooftop of the Gaylord where an open bar and music welcomed hundreds of attendees as others were turned away due to the overcapacity crowd. The hotel lobby was another popular spot where fellow conservatives gathered to discuss the over-the-top Democratic agenda. I went to sleep as I was warned to arrive at 4 AM on Saturday to ensure a place at Trump’s 11:30 AM speech. I arrived at 7 AM on Saturday and was directed to the lower level of the Convention Center to undergo a thorough security check which included carefully perusing my fanny pack and checking the soles of my shoes. These guys were all business as dozens of heavily armed Secret Service agents were stationed throughout the Hotel which was closed at 10:30 AM-an hour before the president arrived.
There was a palpable excitement in the massive room which had a standing room crowd as attendees patiently waited for the star of the conference, Donald Trump, to regal the crowd with his outsized personality and irreverent wit-and he certainly delivered. The president arrived 45 minutes late at which time we were treated to a taped CNN interview between Chris Cuomo and head of CPAC Matt Schlapp.
Cuomo’s bulging eyes and unapologetically aggressive disposition towards Schlapp and Trump made him appear demented and maniacal and the audience responded with loud booing as the overtness of his prejudice was blaring. When Trump finally took to the stage he appeared fresh as a daisy belying the fact that he had just returned from a forty hour trip one day and a half earlier. He began by lovingly hugging the American flag as the crowd cheered and waved their “Make America Great Again” hats.
Trump spoke mostly extemporaneously with few notes during the two hour speech and had the crowd on its feet as his comedic repertoire left exhausted attendees howling and clapping time and time again. His speech was part comedian, part Hollywood actor and even part politician as it was clear he was pushing his agenda which included building the wallI and defeating the democrats in 2020. Trump used some choice curse words including “bullshit” when describing the Mueller probe despite his admission that wife Melania urged him not to.
He vented against the socialist wing of the Democrat party (saying they should not be mistakenly referred to as the Democratic party) acknowledging that this shift to the left would ensure a clear victory. Trump said he would speak “off script” admitting that’s how he had gotten elected as he mimicked Jeff Sessions’ Southern accent and said he wishes he would have known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation before he appointed him Attorney General.
Trump highlighted his solitary months in the White House during the crucial holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the government shutdown-jokingly conceding this was done in an effort to pander to voters. His trip to Iraq during this time helped him obliterate the ISIS caliphate in Syria as the generals and soldiers on the ground notified him they could destroy ISIS in a week if they were allowed to switch military bases. Trump thanked his father Fred for telling him to go out into the field because “nobody gets rich from sitting behind a desk.”
In a highly impactful moment the president called recently assaulted conservative activist and Berkeley student Hayden Williams to the stage to thank him for taking “a punch for all of us.” He urged Hayden to sue the assaulter and Berkeley remarking Hayden would soon be a very wealthy man. Trump said he would be signing an executive order that would withhold federal funding from colleges that didn’t support free speech.
He also spoke about the necessity of building a wall since Mexico sent their worst people to us with mothers giving their daughters birth control when crossing the border since one third of the women were raped-a frightening statistic. He disparaged the media for its frequent inaccurate reporting that arenas were empty as they did during his inauguration. He vowed to give pictures to “the great one”, television and radio host Mark Levin, showing false inauguration pictures that were taken hours before while it was still dark out.
At the conclusion of the speech, a galvanized Trump said he was looking forward to winning in 2020 as the economy continues to thrive with more than 5.7 million jobs created and the lowest unemployment rate in the history of the Hispanic and Black communities. The conference ended at 6 PM on Saturday with former prosecutor Jeanine Pirro roaring that she was prepared to try and convict the platform of infanticide that the left has espoused regarding late-term abortion.
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