Speaking in Washington for the first time since his presidency and its turbulent end, Donald Trump didn’t say he was running for president in 2024. But he didn’t say he wasn’t. And sometimes, he sure sounded like it.
Trump spoke to an adoring crowd gathered for the America First Agenda Summit. The America First Policy Institute group formed after his presidency, providing a place to land for his supporters as well as current and former members of Congress.
The two-day session featured a dozen hour-long panels offering in-depth policy discussion. Many big conservative names spoke: Newt Gingrich, Rick Scott, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece Alveda King, and many others. They detailed the problems, discussed solutions, and recounted congressional policy battles.
But the crowd of 1,200 staid Republicans, conservatives, and Right to Lifers in suits and business dresses—not a MAGA hat in sight—erupted into cheers of “Trump, Trump, Trump,” “USA, USA, USA,” and “Four more years, four more years” as their hero delivered the keynote speech.
“They want to damage me so I can no longer go back to work for you,” Trump told them. “And I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
“It was fantastic,” Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partners for Conservative Principles, said afterward. “It’s a new chapter. He’s moved on from speeches he’s been giving at rallies to energize the base. He’s now focusing on the future. He’s starting to sound like a presidential candidate.”
Trump, for most of the 90-minute speech, focused on growing urban decay, crime and homelessness, and the problems of illegal immigration. He ripped the Biden administration for its policies so rapidly reversing a strong economy and a border that he’d brought under control and the Democratic Party for the chaos in big cities that party dominates.