President Trump on Saturday took a victory lap for what he described as a booming economy, U.S. victories abroad, and his success on conservative priorities like appointing new judges to the federal courts as he urged grassroots conservative activists to continue fighting.
In a stem-winding speech that clocked in at about two hours, Mr. Trump mocked opponents on both the left and the right, swiped at the investigation into his connections with Russia, and said the world now knows the U.S. means business.
“America is winning again. America is respected again — and the world knows it,” he told grassroots activists at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
He implied that conservatives who continue to resist him would feel differently if a president with a different name had accomplished the same things in his first two years in office.
“I put in over a hundred federal judges — it’ll soon be 145 federal judges,” he said. “We got the best economy maybe in our history… we’ve got the best employment numbers and unemployment numbers in our history… we got more regulations [cut] in two years than any president has ever done.”
Mr. Trump also touted boosts in military funding he has helped secure recently.
“Obama was spending much less, but our military was being depleted. He was fighting in endless wars, they never end,” he said. “And by the way, as of probably today or tomorrow will actually have 100 percent of the Caliphate in Syria - 100 percent.”
“And we’ll leave a small group of guys and gals, but we want to bring our people back home,” he said.
Mr. Trump teed off on Democrats leveraging their new House majority to investigate him and his administration and dinged special counsel Robert Mueller, who could soon be submitting his final report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“We had the greatest victory of all time - now we have people, lost, and unfortunately you put the wrong people in a couple of positions, and they leave people for all time that shouldn’t be here,” Mr. Trump said. “And all of a sudden, they’re trying to take you out with bull—.”
At one point, he acknowledged to the adoring crowd that he was “totally off script right now.”
“And this is how I got elected, by being off script,” he said. “And if we don’t go off script, our country is in big trouble, folks.”
Mr. Trump defended his abbreviated summit in Vietnam this week with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, though the two men couldn’t come to a deal on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
“I had to walk, because every once in a while you have to walk,” Mr. Trump said. “Because the deal wasn’t a deal that was acceptable to me.”
Mr. Trump also took some bipartisan criticism after he said he took Mr. Kim at his word that the leader didn’t know specifics about the condition of Otto Warmbier, who died in 2017 in the United States soon after he was released from imprisonment in North Korea.
The president later said “of course” he holds North Korea responsible for Otto’s mistreatment and death.
“We got our great people back… and that includes our beautiful, beautiful Otto, Otto Warmbier, whose parents I’ve gotten to know, who’s incredible,” Mr. Trump said on Saturday. “And I’m in such a horrible position because in one way I have to negotiate. In the other way, I love Mr. and Mrs. Warmbier and I love Otto and it’s a very, very delicate balance.”
Mr. Trump also said he needed CPAC attendees to stay active heading into the 2020 presidential election.
“You’re energized, you’re mobilized, and you’re engaged,” he said. “We need your voice…we need your commitment.”
He said Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to push socialist policies like Medicare-for-all.
“They’re embracing open borders, socialism, and extreme late-term abortion,” he said.
“We hopefully are going to be here for six more years,” he said. “We believe in the American Dream, not in the socialist nightmare.”
He jokingly encouraged Democrats to continue pressing forward on their “Green New Deal” to try to aggressively reduce carbon emissions.
“I encourage it. I think it’s really something,” he said. “It’s something our country needs desperately.”
He said Democrats are pushing policies that he could never sell, but he urged conservative activists to remain vigilant.
“But, big but, they always stick together and the Republicans don’t — remember that,” he said.
Eric Reynolds of Bowie, Maryland, had positive things to say afterward.
“He’s one of the few people, much less politicians, that’s willing to say what the facts are and call things for what they are regardless of the political correctness or regardless of the backlash that’s going to happen — he’s not afraid of it,” Mr. Reynolds said.
Stephanie Reynolds, Eric’s wife, said she appreciates the president’s emphasis on issues involving the dignity of life.
“He’s very focused on humanity and [a] pro-life agenda,” she said. “Bringing dignity back to human life. I think people have lost sight that human life has value.”