President Trump’s love for the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference was palpable from the beginning of his speech Friday morning.
“I love this place. I love you people,” the president said. “I wouldn’t miss a chance to talk to my friends. These are my friends.”
Trump gave a campaign-style speech to the adoring crowd, promising them that “the era of empty talk is over” as he began to tick off each of his campaign promises.
“We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he promised, despite the fact that Republicans have not yet settled on an alternative plan.
“We’re going to build the wall. Don’t worry about it,” Trump crowed to the crowd, telling them that they were “way ahead of schedule.”
He also jabbed his favorite punching bag — the media.
Trump crowed that the “dishonest media” would say he didn’t receive a standing ovation because everyone was standing in the room and never sat down.
And then he doubled down on his tweet a week ago calling the media the “enemy of the people.”
Trump claimed his comments had been misrepresented because he didn’t call all media the enemy — just the “fake news,” though he cited mainstream news sources who do not print fake news stories, such as CNN, NBC News, CBS News and others.
Trump attended the annual conservative gathering as the newfound leader of the movement who put Republicans back in charge of both the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade. But he hasn’t always seen eye to eye with conservatives here, and last year even skipped out on the gathering at the last minute during the height of the 2016 GOP primary.
He wasn’t most attendees’ first choice at the time, but his mix of populism with some tenets of conservative orthodoxy has been on full display this week at the conference, held just outside the nation’s capital at the Gaylord National Harbor in Maryland.
When Trump first addressed the group in 2011, flirting with a 2012 presidential bid, he sounded many of the same populist tones that would propel him to the Oval Office, as NPR’s Don Gonyea has noted.
Several top White House advisers have spoken over the past two days, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and counselor Kellyanne Conway. Vice President Pence addressed the group Thursday night, also making a forceful argument for many of the administration’s top priorities, especially repealing and replacing Obamacare.