Basking in his victory in front of an enthusiastic CPAC crowd, President Donald Trump today called his election to the presidency a “win for conservative values” and promised to put American citizens first. On the whole, the president stuck to his campaign themes — even where they conflicted with what used to be the norm in the Republican party — and he spoke in the loose style that listeners have come to expect at this rallies.
Trump opened with an attack on the media, and he affirmed his right to criticize them even as they exercise their own right in covering him:
They say that we can’t criticize their dishonest coverage because of the First Amendment. They always bring up the First Amendment. I love the First Amendment. Nobody loves it better than me. Nobody — who uses it more than I do? But the First Amendment gives all of us — it gives it to me it gives it to you, it gives it to all Americans — the right to speak our minds freely. It gives you the right and me the right to criticize fake news and criticize it strongly.
He also let it be known that he thought his victory benefitted the conservative movement:
Our victory was a win like nobody has ever seen before. And I’m here fighting for you, and I will continue to fight for you. The victory and the win was something that really was dedicated to a country and people that believe in freedom, security and the rule of law. Our victory was a victory and a win for conservative values. And our victory was a win for everyone who believes it’s time to stand up for America, to stand up for the American worker, and to stand up for the American flag.
Later, Trump spoke about trade, and let the crowd know that he has no plans to go back to traditionally conservative free-trade views:
I’ve also followed through on my campaign promise and withdrawn America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership so that we can protect our economic freedom. And we’re going to make trade deals, but we’re going to do one-on-one — one-on-one — and if they misbehave, we terminate the deal, and then they come back and we’ll make a better deal. None of these big quagmire deals that are disaster.
Just take a look at NAFTA, one of the worst deals ever made by any country having to do with economic development. It’s economic undevelopment as far as our country is concerned.
Perhaps most interesting given the current debates in Congress, he reaffirmed major promises on taxes, jobs, and the economy:
Another major promise is tax reform. We are going to massively lower taxes on the middle class, reduce taxes on American business, and make our tax code more simple and much more fair for everyone, including the people and the business. In anticipation of these and other changes, jobs are already starting to pour back into our country. You see that.
In fact, I think I did more than any other president. They say president-elect. President-elect is meeting with Ford, he’s meeting with Chrysler, he’s meeting with General Motors. I just wanted to save a little time because Ford and Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Intel, and so many others are now because of the election result making major investments in the United States, expanding production and hiring more workers. And they’re going back to Michigan and they’re going back to Ohio and they’re going back to Pennsylvania and they’re going back to North Carolina and to Florida.
It’s time for all Americans to get off of welfare and get back to work. You’re going to love it.
In the end, the president didn’t just criticize his opponents and past U.S. policy, he also voiced optimism about America, saying near the end of the speech:
There is no dream too large, no task too great. We are Americans, and the future belongs to us — the future belongs to all of you. And America is coming about, it’s, and it’s coming back and it’s roaring and you can hear it. It’s going to be bigger and better.