Former US president Donald Trump has teased another run for the presidency in 2024, brushing off talk of starting a new political party and vowing to drive his Republican enemies out of office in his first speech since leaving the White House.
Trump revived his false claims that he was the true victor of the November election and that Democrats rigged the result against him – lies that inspired his supporters to storm the Capitol on January 6.
He also indicated that he would campaign against Republicans in Congress who had voted to impeach him and work to replace them with candidates who are loyal to him and his “America first” agenda.
“This election was rigged, and the Supreme Court and other courts, didn’t want to do anything about it,” Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando on Monday (AEDT).
“We have a very sick and corrupt electoral process that must be fixed immediately.”
Trump initially refrained from repeating his election fraud claims following the January 6 riot, which resulted in five deaths, but he now feels liberated to return to the theme following his acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial.
Referring to his Democratic opponents, Trump said. “Actually, as you know they just lost the White House. I may even decide to beat them for a third time.”
While not officially declaring himself a candidate for the 2024 election, Trump hinted that it was highly possible by saying: “We will first take back the House and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. I wonder who that will be?”
His speech drew a standing ovation from the conservative activists in the crowd, who chanted “you won, you won” and “four more years”.
Trump said his “incredible journey” with the Republican Party was only just beginning.
“We began it together four years ago, and it is far from being over,” he said.
Trump dismissed reports that he had considered forming a new breakaway conservative party, saying: “I am going to continue to fight right by your side. We’re not starting new parties.”
During the speech Trump read out the names of all the Republican members of Congress who voted to impeach him or convict him of inciting the January 6 insurrection, urging Republican voters to “get rid of them all”.
He gave a special shout-out to Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney, who voted in favour of impeachment, describing her as “the warmonger, a person who loves seeing our troops fighting”.
Describing his endorsement as “the most powerful asset in politics”, Trump said he would actively campaign to elect “America First Republican conservatives” to Congress.
A poll of attendees at the conference found that 55 per cent said that Trump was their preferred Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, ahead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on 21 per cent.
Trump said the early weeks of the Biden administration had been “a catastrophe for American workers and American families”, hitting out at his successor’s policies on immigration and energy policy.
He said that America was heading “from energy dominance to energy disaster” under Biden and that massive numbers of illegal immigrants were already attempting to cross the border with Mexico.
While much of his speech focused on familiar themes from his past presidential campaigns, Trump introduced a new issue by focusing on the issue of trans female athletes competing in women’s sports.
“I think it’s crazy,” Trump said of sports records being broken by trans women athletes. “We must protect the integrity of women’s sports.”