U.S. presidential candidate and former president Donald Trump on Saturday (March 4) told Republicans at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that he was the only candidate who could prevent “World War Three”, which he also said was going to happen “if something doesn’t happen fast.”
Trump said, “Before I even arrive at the Oval Office, I will have the disastrous war between Russia and Ukraine settled. It will be settled quickly,” adding that he “got along very well” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who would listen to him.
Serving as the closing speaker for the event on Saturday, Trump also took aim at the GOP before his presidency, saying, “We had a Republican Party that was ruled by freaks, neocons, globalists, open borders, zealots, and fools. But we are never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove and Jeb Bush.”
The three-day conference in Washington illustrated the iron grip Trump holds over the right-wing, grassroots base of his party and how hard it could be for a challenger to deny Trump the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
At the same time, it remains an open question whether Trump’s appeal still extends beyond his hard-core loyalists. Public opinion polls showing many Republicans are looking for an alternative such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, believing they may offer a better chance of winning the White House.
CPAC once was a premier gathering of the party’s Republicans in Washington but of late has become dominated by Trump and his supporters to the extent that it was skipped this year by most Republican members of Congress and the nation’s Republican governors. Many speakers spoke to a half-empty ballroom and attendance overall seemed noticeably lower than in years past.