WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak to right-wing activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the National Harbor near Washington on Saturday, which comes on the heels of his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
It’s unclear what issues Trump will bring up during his remarks to the crowd in his third CPAC speech since becoming President. But if his past speeches at the venue are any indication, plan for Trump to rile up his base on core issues like national security and Second Amendment rights, while also making time to rail against his political opponents.
In remarks at the conference on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence previewed the White House’s talking points, touting Trump’s accomplishments since taking office and addressing the recent summit with North Korea in Hanoi, Vietnam. Pence also remarked at length on what appeared to be a core theme throughout the conference — deriding what conservatives consider to be the tenants of socialism.
Since becoming President, Trump has used the CPAC platform to speak on base issues — highlighting his accomplishments and railing against his opponents — in the same brash style he delivers at his political rallies.
Last year, Trump discarded his prepared remarks for his speech, lighting into Democrats and even some Republicans who he deemed insufficiently doctrinaire, and calling for teachers to be armed in schools as a response to the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting, which had occurred a week earlier.
Trump welcomed familiar chants like “lock her up” about his former presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton. He also pledged to protect gun ownership rights, even amid an emotional national debate over guns in which he’d pledged new restrictions.
He declared his administration “has had the most successful first year in the history of the presidency,” naming tax cuts and a regulatory overhaul as his chief accomplishments. He trumpeted downgrades in US participation in the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear accord. He even offered a rare moment of self-deprecation when he admitted to some personal vanity.
“I try like hell to hide that bald spot folks, folks. I work hard at it,” he said, looking at his image projected onto a large screen.
In 2017, he joined the crowd in a victory lap from behind the presidential seal. He vowed to uphold campaign promises and escalated his attacks on the press, pitting the news media against conservative values and suggesting he was going to take action soon to end what he described as a scourge of “fake news.”
Trump, at the time, vowed an economic revival spurred by new jobs and scaled-back regulation. He said his most prominent agenda items would be realized in short order. And he characterized in nationalist terms the “America first” theme of his presidency.
Trump also emphasized the importance of American safety, vowing at the time — a week before releasing a revised version of his travel ban — “to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.”
But just a year earlier, amid the 2016 presidential election, Trump had backed out of his CPAC speech. The conference came amid division in the Republican Party over Trump’s candidacy, and Trump reportedly canceled his appearance because protesters planned to disrupt his remarks. Instead, he decided to rally with supporters in Kansas.
The year prior, a few months before declaring his candidacy,Trump appeared at CPAC in a question-and-answer with Fox News host Sean Hannity, during which he questioned whether then-President Barack Obama was an American citizen.