Trump delivers a slashing speech that rouses the right


Associated Press

OXON HILL, Md.

In a slashing speech packed with braggadocio and grievance, President Donald Trump denounced Democrats as the party of “the socialist nightmare,” relitigated his crowd sizes back to the inauguration and took on “sick,” “lunatic” and “dirty” foes at every turn, earning him the unvarnished adoration of cheering conservatives Saturday.

After a trying week of tumult and setbacks, Trump delivered a stemwinder that extended beyond two hours and hardly left him winded.

Trump let loose against House Democrats, who are broadening their investigations of him, predicted he would win re-election by a greater margin than his 2016 victory, taunted his potential White House challengers and sounded themes that are staples of his rallies.

He complained often of getting “no credit” for his achievements as he proudly drifted “off script” at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

His remarks capped a week that saw his nuclear summit with North Korea’s leader collapse without an agreement, his former lawyer deliver damaging congressional testimony about his character and business practices and Congress take action to nullify his emergency declaration to secure money for the border wall that lawmakers have denied him.

On the stage, he was a prideful and at times profane figure as he complained that past political appointments had allowed a situation where political foes were trying to take him out with “bullshit.”

Trump reached back to old criticisms of his ex-attorney general, mocking Jeff Sessions’ Southern accent and calling him “weak and ineffective.”

It took him more than an hour to get to the message that Republicans and members of his administration have been emphasizing in recent weeks as they try to brand Democratic policy ideas as socialism.

“America will never be a socialist country,” he said. “Socialism is not about the environment, it’s not about justice, it’s not about virtue.” He said it’s about “power for the ruling class.”

For every prepared line like that, there were multiple improvisations from a president on policy and personality.

“That’s how I got elected – by being off script,” Trump said early in his speech as the crowd roared its approval.

He took particular delight in going after the Democrats’ Green New Deal, brought forward by some liberal Democrats in Congress and backed to varying degrees by several of the party’s 2020 presidential candidates.

“I think the New Green Deal or whatever the hell they call it – the Green New Deal – I encourage it,” Trump said mockingly as he wound up for a round of exaggeration. “I think it’s really something that they should promote. They should work hard on it. ... No planes, no energy. When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric. Let’s hurry up. Darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.”

He returned to the topic again and again, and jokingly kicked himself for doing so, saying it would give the Democrats time to back away from it.

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