Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged received a standing ovation from a crowd of young conservatives in Tampa on Friday night.
At another point, he called the global climate crisis a “hoax” that needed to be “undone” by Republicans.
After arriving more than an hour late for his scheduled appearance at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit, the former president delivered an hour-and-a-half-long speech in which he raged against the Biden administration, the Democrats’ agenda, the border crisis — and dropped more clues he could execute to change that in 2024.
“Our country has never been in a situation like this. The election was stolen, it was rigged,” the former president said in his speech, sponsored by Turning Point Action.
“I raced twice, won twice and did much better the second time than the first.”
The Tampa Convention Center audience erupted in cheers — a departure from the lackluster reception its complaints about the 2020 race have received at recent campaign rallies.
And dropping another hint about his 2024 ambitions, Trump added: “And now we may have to start over.”
Audience members burst into chants of “Take It Back” as the ex-president watched approvingly.
Trump’s message of voter fraud resonating with young voices would be a significant departure from warnings from establishment Republicans that voters aren’t interested in reviving the past.
Donald Trump took the stage at the Turning Point Student Action Summit more than an hour after his scheduled appearance
He then gave a 90-minute long speech less than 24 hours after organizing a rally in Arizona
The crowd of young conservatives were electrified by the former president and even applauded his 2020 election fraud allegations
In another White House tease towards the end of his speech, Trump said: ‘If I agreed to remain silent, if I stayed home, if I announced that I was not going to run for office , the persecution of Donald Trump would be stopped. ‘
“But that’s what they want me to do – and you know what, there’s no way I’m going to do that,” he added.
The former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., opened for his father in his first public address since the death of his mother, Ivana Trump, just days ago.
“If I’m like low-energy Jeb, I hope you forgive me and let it go this time around,” Don Jr. told supporters, referring to 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. .
But he was still at Saturday night’s event, he said, “because I know it’s important and I know my mom would want me here.”
His speech and that of his father were sponsored by Turning Point Action.
Meanwhile, the battle lines for the 2024 election cycle appear to have been drawn at the multi-day Republican student event.
The multi-day event drew teenage and young adult Republicans from across the country
The day before Trump’s speech, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis delivered a campaign-style speech to a cheering audience on the first day of the summit on Friday.
Despite insisting he’s focused on his 2022 re-election in Florida, DeSantis hasn’t ruled out facing Trump in a surely contentious GOP presidential primary — which would have infuriated the former president, according to Politico.
DeSantis turned to the Biden administration and scoffed at the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, wishing the country “a very speedy Joe Biden recovery.”
He also touted his ‘leadership’ on education and his public battle with Disney, while firing California Governor Gavin Newsom – who is widely seen as a 2024 Democratic hopeful if Biden doesn’t run.
The popular Republican governor made no mention of Trump during his 30-minute speech.
Other potential 2024 GOP hopefuls who spoke at the event were Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Trump’s appearance in Tampa comes after receiving rare jeers from his rally crowd in Arizona on Friday night – prompting the confused ex-president to ask: ‘But you like me, don’t you?’
DeSantis’ speech on Friday night oscillated between a national political message and extolling his achievements in Florida
His otherwise adoring audience booed when Trump mentioned his recent endorsement of House GOP hopeful Eli Crane, who is running for Arizona’s 2nd congressional district despite apparently having no connection to the State.
It was Trump’s second rally in Arizona this year, held on behalf of gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Senate candidate Blake Masters.
During the rally, Trump also raged against the House Jan. 6 committee, which wrapped up its latest in a series of eight hearings on Thursday — though his vice chair Liz Cheney promised others would come to the meeting. ‘fall.
“A friend of mine recently said that I was the most persecuted person in the history of our country,” he said. “I thought about it and felt, you know, he could very well be right.”
The panel’s eighth hearing unveiled new information about what the former president did in the 187 minutes between when he urged his supporters to march on the US Capitol at his ‘Stop the Steal’ rally and when where he told them to go home.
Lawmakers contrasted images of Trump watching the violence unfold from the White House dining room and then-Vice President Mike Pence being rushed by his security detail, narrowly missing the rioters.
It also included audio from an unnamed White House security official who said Secret Service agents protecting Pence ‘began to fear for their own lives’ and even called the family to say goodbye. .