President Donald Trump will be the first president since Ronald Reagan to address the Conservative Political Action Conference during his first year in office. Trump pulled out of the event days before he was to appear last year.
Reagan addressed the first meeting of the group in 1974, and multiple times thereafter, and in fact delivered one of the most memorable lines of his political career at the 1975 event.
He said to those who argued the Republican Party needed to tack to the left to become more acceptable to more people, that the true answer was “raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people.”
He went on to propose an agenda, which looks a good deal like Trump and the Republican’s priorities of 2017:
- Reduce federal spending and get the nation back to a balanced budget.
- Lower tax rates and simplify the tax code.
- Unleash the free market and recognize it, and not the federal government, as the primary provider for the people’s needs.
- Restore sound money.
- Roll back destructive job crushing regulations by the federal government.
- Return to limited government; reverse the nation’s drift towards socialism.
Trump, like Reagan, has addressed CPAC multiple times, but cancelled last year’s appearance just days before he was slated to speak in favor of participating in campaign events in Florida and Kansas.
The event was taking place in the throes of the Republican primary in early March, when the issue of who would be the Republican nominee was very much at issue, and the #NeverTrumpers’ efforts were reaching a fevered pitch.
Sen. Ted Cruz won the CPAC straw poll taking 40 percent of the vote, Sen. Marco Rubio’s 30 percent, while Trump, despite the slight to the attendees, still managed a third place showing at 15 percent.
In keeping with his post election pattern offering the peace pipe, Trump is slated to speak to the annual largest gathering of conservatives on Friday morning.
“I think it’s a great honor that he’s coming,” American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp told CNN on Wednesday. “This is a big moment for CPAC and for our attendees and for the conservative movement.” The ACU is the sponsor of CPAC.
Schlapp told Fox News host Sean Hannity on the eve of the event Wednesday night that conservatives have a chance to make just as much of an impact as the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s.
With Republicans in control of the House and the Senate and the presidency, “We have a chance that Ronald Reagan didn’t even have,” Schlapp said.
Republicans had a slim majority in the Senate during Reagan’s first six years in office, while the Democrats controlled the House during his entire tenure.
Trump will likely tout the steps he has already taken that are music to conservatives’ ears including his strong conservative cabinet appointments, the prominent role of Vice President Mike Pence in his administration, executive action already taken aimed at rolling back red tape, and his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
The president will also likely call on the conservative stalwarts to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire on the issues of repealing and replacing Obamacare and implementing the most sweeping tax reform since Reagan in the 1980s.
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