AP NEWS

At CPAC, conservatives celebrate Donald Trump’s accomplishments

February 23, 2018 GMT

President Trump’s top cheerleaders took a victory lap at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, saying he’s checked off much of his to-do list and urging voters to remember that in November.

Heading into an election where the GOP faces headwinds, Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons and a key adviser during the campaign, said it’s Democrats who will have a tough time defending against the president’s economic and national security accomplishments.

“If I was a Democrat right now I would be very worried,” he said in an evening event. “At the end of the day people have a lot more money in their pocket then they would have ever imagined. And I think at the end of the day that’s what wins.”

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to the thousands of activists earlier in the day, said Democrats have hurt their own chances by suggesting impeachment, pushing for stricter gun laws following the Florida shooting, and trying to minimize the impact of the $1.5 trillion tax cut.

“The woman that wants to be Speaker of the House again, Nancy Pelosi, said she said, she actually said the tax cuts would be Armageddon before they passed,” Mr. Pence said. “But, most amazingly of all, she keeps saying that a $1,000 bonus for working Americans is nothing more than crumbs.”

“Any leader who says that $1,000 in the pockets of working families is crumbs is out of touch with the American people,” Mr. Pence said.

Reviewing Mr. Trump’s tenure, Mr. Pence said it’s been “promises made and promises kept,” pointing to accomplishments on the president’s moves to rebuild the military, support law enforcement, appoint conservative-minded judges, cut taxes, support the pro-life movement, and crack down on illegal immigration.

“Because of all of you, because of the conservative majorities in Congress that you helped elect and because of the strong leadership of the president you’ve put in the White House, 2017 was the most consequential year in the history of the conservative movement,” Mr. Pence said.

The White House and their allies are working to keep the conservative grass-roots energized ahead of the midterm elections, which historically have been tough for the party in power, and could determine whether Mr. Trump adds to his list of achievements beyond this year.

Mr. Trump plans to address CPAC on Friday, where he’ll find an audience wildly enthusiastic about how his first year in office has turned out.

“By the end of the year, you look at the tax reform bill, you look at the individual mandate, you look at regulations, judges Neil Gorsuch is a home run,” said Sen. Ted Cruz said, referring to Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta boasted about the “Trump economy” and touted the lowest U.S. unemployment rate in 17 years.

“And, you know, I’ve heard it said, ‘This isn’t about President Trump; this is just a continuation of what was happening,’” he said.

“You know the areas that have grown the most? Manufacturing and construction. This is all about what President Trump is doing to energize our economy and to create jobs,” he said.

While praising Mr. Trump, the speakers took aim at the press for botching predictions of the 2016 election and for coverage of the administration so far.

Democrats’ 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, also came in for her share of barbs.

“Most of all, President Trump brought us one really fantastic thing,” said conservative writer Ben Shapiro, a past critic of Mr. Trump. “Hillary Clinton is not, and will never be, president of the United States.”

That prompted loud chants of “Lock her up!” that were a staple of Trump rallies in 2016 a reference to the saga over the former secretary of state’s private email server.

“Why bother?” Mr. Shapiro replied. “She’s already in a jail of her own making, somewhere in the woods of upstate New York.”