Trump calls Reps 'fools', Dems 'warmongers' at 'MAGApalooza' gathering
As he relaunches his bid for the presidency, Trump vows to end the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Former US President Donald Trump drastically elevated the stakes of the 2024 race on Saturday, warning that he was the only candidate capable of saving America from "warmonger" Democrats and "zealots and fools" in the mainstream Republican party.
Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that US citizens were "in an epic struggle to rescue our country from the people who hate it and want to absolutely destroy it."
"We had a Republican Party that was ruled by freaks, neocons, globalists, open border zealots, and fools," he tersely stated, singling out multiple luminaries of the traditional party by name.
'I will prevent World War III'
Trump said American citizens were fed up with "entrenched political dynasties in both parties, rotten special interests, China-loving politicians," and advocates of "endless foreign wars."
"We're going to have Word War III if something doesn't happen fast," he warned in a section voicing disapproval for US lethal supplies to Ukraine.
"I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
Trump spoke for around 100 minutes to conclude the four-day CPAC, which was held a short distance down the Potomac River from the nation's capital, Washington.
CPAC was until recently the premier gathering of conservative thought leaders in America -- but it has been swallowed whole by Trump's far-right "Make America Great Again" movement, with pundits making reference to the event lately as "MAGApalooza."
"We are going to finish what we started," Trump said as he took to the stage, prompting a chant of "Four more years, four more years!"
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, who are leading the race in the face of Trump, missed the event to avoid being booed by the former President's supporters.
Trump mentioned neither by name, which surprised experts who expected attacks on both. Delegates did, however, regularly heckle his only declared Republican opponent, Nikki Haley, during and after her address at the convention on Friday.
Trump's former senior strategist Stephen Bannon and celebrity supporter Mike Lindell were greeted like kings as they roamed the corridors of the National Harbor convention center, preaching election denial.
"It's not going to be a fair election," Lindell told AFP of the 2024 race.
"But when 90 percent of the people in this country want Donald Trump, he should win anyway, even with the crooked elections."
Read next: DeSantis warns not to turn Ukraine into ‘proxy war’ field with China
Before taking the stage, it was revealed that Trump had won the straw poll of potential Republican leaders at the conference with 62 percent of the vote, with DeSantis a distant second at 20 percent.
"In 2016, I declared: I am your voice. Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution," Trump said.
"I will totally obliterate the deep state. I will fire the unelected bureaucrats and shadow forces who have weaponized our justice system. And I will put the people back in charge of this country again," he concluded.