Donald Trump Dubs Himself a “Political Dissident” in CPAC Speech

In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday, former President Donald Trump cast the 2024 presidential election as a quasi-religious day of reckoning for his political opponents. 

“For hard-working Americans, Nov. 5 will be our new Liberation Day,” he said. “But for the liars, and cheaters, and fraudsters, and censors and imposters who have commandeered our government, it will be their Judgment Day.”

The line underscored the apocalyptic tone that suffused Trump’s speech, which was peppered with warnings of “hoards of illegal aliens stampeding across our borders,” Hamas coming to “terrorize our streets,” and the utter “collapse” of public services including education and healthcare. “If crooked Joe Biden and his thugs win in 2024, the worst is yet to come,” Trump said. “Our country will go and sink to levels that were unimaginable.”

“When we win, the curtain closes on their corrupt reign, and the sun rises on a bright new future for America,” he added. “I believe it’s our last chance.”

Throughout his campaign, Trump has consistently portrayed himself as a singular bulwark against onrushing tyranny, a theme he reprised on Saturday. “Our country is being destroyed, and the only thing standing between you and its obliteration is me,” Trump said. “I stand before you today only as your past and hopefully future president, but as a proud political dissident. I am a dissident.”

The line recalled Trump’s comments last week comparing his legal woes to the persecution of Russian dissident Alexey Navalny, who died in an Arctic panel colony under mysterious circumstances. President Joe Biden, Western leaders and Kremlin critics have all blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for Navalny’s death.

Continuing what has become a campaign theme, Trump accused President Biden, without evidence, of orchestrating the 91 criminal indictments against him. “He indicted me,” Trump said of Biden, adding that his legal cases were “Stalinist show trials carried out at the Joe Biden orders.”

Trump’s speech came as he coasted to victory in Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary, besting the state’s former two-term governor Nikki Haley by more than 20 points. Sensing his hold on the nomination growing even more potent, Trump didn’t even utter Haley’s name during his CPAC speech.

Biden campaign rapid response director Ammar Moussa responded to the speech by calling Trump a “loser.”

“Under his presidency, America lost more jobs than any president in modern history, women in more than 20 states have lost the freedom to make their own health care decisions because Trump overturned Roe, and the MAGA wing of the Republican Party lost their damn minds putting Trump’s quest for power over our democracy,” he said.

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