Watch live: Trump at CPAC Dallas says ‘election was rigged and stolen’ – The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump brought his dark views of Joe Biden’s presidency to Dallas on Saturday night, warning that “American civilization will collapse” if he’s not returned to power and regurgitating his falsehoods about the 2020 election.

“The election was rigged and stolen, and now our country is being systematically destroyed. And everybody knows it….I ran twice and won twice,” he declared at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “America is on the edge of an abyss. And our movement is the only force on earth that can save it.”

“We have to seize this opportunity to deal with the radical left socialists and fascists,” Trump said, rallying activists for the November midterms.

Persecution and grievance were recurring themes at the three-day conference at the Hilton Anatole, where speakers echoed Trump’s disproved assertions that he actually won in 2020. Trump and others denounced the House Jan. 6 investigation.

“Look at what they’re doing to President Trump. They understand they can’t beat him at the ballot box. They can’t beat his energy. They can’t beat his vision,” Steve Bannon, Trump’s former strategist, told CPAC on Friday, two weeks after his conviction on two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. “They’re trying to put him in jail to make sure he cannot run again and 2024 and be the rightful president he should be right now.”

Trump has been a rock star at CPAC for years.

He handily won a straw poll of attendees on Saturday, topping Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 69-24 as their top pick for president in 2024. Sen. Ted Cruz was a distant third at 2%.

“I said I better win that damn straw poll… It’s an honor,” Trump said, noting he’d also scored a 99% approval rating. “When is the last time somebody had 99% approval?”

Nationally, just under half of Republicans named Trump as their top choice in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll. And nearly one in five believe his actions after losing the election “threatened American democracy.” At CPAC, 91% of attendees said they would support Trump if he seeks the Republican nomination.

“Almost all of the progress that we have made comes either directly or indirectly from Donald Trump,” said conservative media host Glenn Beck, warming up the crowd for Trump.

High on Beck’s list: the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade and ending a half-century of constitutional protection for abortion rights. Trump installed three of justices on the nine-member court, cementing a rightward shift that will last a generation and endearing himself to conservatives.

Kari Lake, the Trump-backed GOP nominee for Arizona governor, called him “the greatest president we’ve ever known.”

“He’s got the globalists against him. He’s got the fake news against him. He’s got the left against him, and he’s even got some people in our own party against him,” she said.

Trump took the stage at the Hilton Anatole to the strains of Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American,” surveying the ballroom at attention until the song ended.

A video played just before he stepped into the spotlight– a four minute distillation of his case against Biden.

America, he said, has become a “joke.” And he said, “We are a nation that allowed Russia to devastate a country, Ukraine, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and it will only get worse.”

Fortunately for Ukraine, that vastly exaggerates the toll. The United Nations has confirmed 5,327 civilian deaths in Ukraine. Western intelligence agencies say Russia has lost up to 20,000 troops, and Ukraine somewhat fewer.

Trump lavished attention on Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Amarillo, teasing that Jackson liked being White House physician even more than serving in Congress, because “he loved looking at my body.… He said I was the healthiest president that’s ever lived.”

Trump blasted Pelosi for visiting Taiwan earlier this week, asserting that she had provoked China needlessly.

“I got impeached twice. She failed twice. The woman brings chaos,” Trump said, asserting that by going to Taiwan, Pelosi “played right into their hands. Now they have an excuse to do whatever they’re doing.”

In Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike lauded Pelosi for refusing to let China dictate where American officials can travel.

Trump hit Biden for failures on the economy, border security and foreign policy, not always with the facts on his side, as when he taunted Biden for allowing gasoline prices to skyrocket.

“$1.87 a gallon I got it down to….A friend of mine from California called me this morning. He just paid $8.55,” Trump predicted. He’d cited $8.25 a day earlier at a rally in Wisconsin.

Data from the federal Energy Information Administration show the average at $4.13 per gallon nationally, and $5.47 in California.

Prices spiked after Russia invaded Ukraine in February but have subsided by 20% since a the peak in late May. The low point Trump cited came during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the economy had come to a standstill.

The latest average in Texas is $3.65, down nearly a dollar in two months.

Trump was in Dallas in July 2021, the last time the American Conservative Union held CPAC there. He basked in chants of “four more years” and spun tall tales about a “rigged election.”

“No evidence? There’s so much evidence,” he insisted then.

He also used the forum to downplay the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, when a mob of his supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

He complained that some “patriots” remained in jail months later, glossing over the fact that some supporters had called for the deaths of Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that day.

The House Jan. 6 hearings revealed that members of Pence’s senior staff and security detail feared for their lives, and the vice president’s.

Trump’s grievance list in July 2021 included his attorney general. Bill Barr, he complained, had refused to echo his assertions about election fraud or assign the Justice Department to engage in a fishing expedition for evidence.

Barr has since testified under oath to the House Jan. 6 committee that Trump’s fabrications had no basis in fact, and recounted his refusal to go along.

Trump remains formidable within the Republican Party.

He has used his clout to punish Republicans in Congress who voted to impeach him over the Jan. 6 attack, and to target against state officials who refused to help overturn his defeat.

On Friday, for instance, he stumped in Wisconsin for a candidate running for governor against state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Biden won the state by more than 20,000 votes and Vos resisted Trump’s pressure to somehow nullify that outcome.

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