Feb 24, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive — Dark Trump at CPAC: "Biden's fast track to hell"

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President Donald Trump gestures to supporters after speaking at a Get Out The Vote rally at Winthrop University on February 23, 2024 in Rock Hill, South Carolina

Former President Trump speaks in Rock Hill, S.C., on Friday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Trump, in a speech to conservatives this afternoon, will paint a dark, distorted picture of an America ravaged by crime, violence, bloodshed, chaos and tyranny, according to excerpts shared exclusively with Axios.

  • Trump presents himself as the only brake on "Biden's fast track to hell."

Why it matters: On the closing day of the annual CPAC conference in Oxon Hill, Md. — where MAGA celebrity Jack Posobiec used a pre-event to hail God's glory — Trump will sermonize a vision of himself as The One, the savior.

Senior campaign officials tell us Trump will lay out his general-election case against Biden in the 1 p.m. speech — flipping the "four more years" argument to a series of dire warnings about Biden's re-election.

  • "Four years ago," Trump says in prepared remarks, "I told you that if Crooked Joe Biden got to the White House, our borders would be abolished, our middle class would be decimated, and our communities would be plagued by bloodshed, chaos and violent crime. As the saying goes: Trump was right about everything."
  • "Crooked Joe and his henchmen have you trapped on an express train barreling toward ruin and servitude," Trump continues. "A vote for Trump is your ticket back to freedom. It's your passport out of tyranny. And it's your only escape from Joe Biden's fast track to hell."

Between the lines: Trump will paint a bleak picture of America if Biden win's a second term, in the vein of the "American carnage" line in Trump's inaugural address.

  • His Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) script calls for a hopeful ending — although you can expect plenty of Trump riffs and departures from the text.

Trump will ask listeners at CPAC — which bills itself as the "largest and most influential gathering of conservatives in the world" — to imagine inflation and immigration after four more years of Biden, and how out of control the Justice Department would be. He'll argue the world would be more chaotic, and streets and college campuses more dangerous.

  • "The unprecedented success of the United States of America will be my ultimate and absolute revenge," Trump plans to say, in a reprise of a line he recently introduced.

If Biden wins, Trump's script says, "the worst is yet to come."

  • Trump — who's under indictment for fighting the outcome of his first election against Biden — will call himself a "freedom fighter" against a corrupt political system.

Reality check: Violent crime has decreased under Biden, according to FBI figures. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said he'd resign if Biden asked him to take action against Trump.

  • Trump said last month to "blame it on me" if a border bill failed. Axios' Neil Irwin has written that the U.S. economy grew faster than any rival last year, by a wide margin, and is on track to do so again this year.

"Our country is having its guts ripped out by Chinese espionage — yet meanwhile, our national security class is obsessed with surveilling, censoring, manipulating, and controlling law-abiding citizens," Trump declares in another passage. "These agencies are supposed to be protecting us from Communist China — not turning us into Communist China."

  • "At the same time, gone will be the days of other countries taking our aid and protection with one hand, while pilfering our jobs and leaving the American worker with the dregs."

The big picture: Trump will speak while polls are open in South Carolina's Republican primary, where he's a heavy favorite against Nikki Haley, the state's former governor.

  • Trump officials vow this is the last day they'll devote any time to Haley — moving decisively into general-election mode even before the former president officially clinches the Republican nomination.

Go deeper: Trump's VP contenders have a big weekend ahead

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