For the first time since breaking tradition and leaving town ahead of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration in January 2021, Donald Trump has returned to Washington DC .
In a speech to Republican members of Congress and former administration officials at the America First Policy Institute summit, the former president laid out what he thinks the GOP’s approach should be if he wins control of Congress in November and the presidency in 2024.
Trump spoke of a seven-part plan to crack down on what he said was rampant crime in American cities.
Some of the proposals were familiar, such as increased liability protections for police officers, more funding for law enforcement and a return to “stop-and-frisk” policies that allow impromptu searches of suspects without warrants.
Others were somewhat new. He called again for the death penalty for drug traffickers, but praised the “speedy trials” that authoritarian countries like China use to combat drug trafficking.
He suggested building government-run tent complexes outside urban areas to rehabilitate the homeless so that American cities can be “clean, safe, and beautiful” again.
He also called on the presidential authority to deploy National Guard soldiers to fight crime in cities without the permission of a local governor, recalling clashes between the president and Democratic governors over whether to use US military forces during protests, to times violent, from Black Lives Matters in 2020.
The former president has always favored tough-on-crime rhetoric, but it is ironic that perhaps the greatest bipartisan political achievement of his tenure was criminal justice reform, which gave thousands of inmates early release and revised federal prison guidelines. judgment.
a divided party
After listing a host of other policy prescriptions (stopping inflation, protecting parental rights, making it easier to fire high-level federal employees, restoring free speech, bringing back manufacturing jobs, and welfare reform social), Trump ventured back to his favorite pastime: complaining. on the results of the 2020 elections.
“I won a second time, I did much better the second time,” he said of his 2020 re-election effort. “He did much better. Very corrupt. We got millions, millions more votes. That will be a story for a long time, what a disgrace it was.”
He complained that he was the “most persecuted president in history.” He complained about his twin impeachment trials and ongoing January 6 committee hearings. He defended his supporters who marched on Capitol Hill before the attack, saying many were being unfairly prosecuted and “tortured and treated so horribly.”
“Something is going to have to happen,” he said. “People aren’t going to take it much longer.”
Earlier in the day, Mike Pence, Trump’s 2020 running mate, also made a speech in Washington. Asked if there was a split within the GOP and whether he was trying to draw distinctions between himself and his former boss, the former vice president demurred.
“I don’t know if our movement is that divided,” he said. “I don’t know if the president and I differ on issues. But we may differ on approach. I truly believe that the election is about the future. And it’s absolutely essential at a time when so many Americans are hurting, so many families are struggling, that we don’t Let us give in to the temptation to look back.
Pence, who has ambitions of his own for 2024, sees Trump’s continued fixation on his electoral loss as an opportunity.
“Let’s focus on the future” is a phrase he has repeated several times and in multiple ways as he travels the country, laying the groundwork for a potential presidential run.
But if the former vice president wants the White House in 2024, his path may have to go through his former boss, who once again hinted Tuesday that his career in politics may not be over.
“We may have to do it again,” Trump said of running for president. “We have to straighten out our country.” At one point, the crowd chanted “four more years.”
The former president thanked them and added that if he left politics, his enemies would leave him alone.
“But that’s not what I do,” he said. “I can’t do that because I love our country, and I can’t do that because I love the people of our country.”