President Trump’s speech today at CPAC is expected to be one of gratitude and celebration. However, six years ago the tone was much different. When he was just a billionaire property developer and reality TV star, Donald Trump went to CPAC with the hopes of building a little conservative street cred among a group that really wasn’t sure they wanted him there. In fact, it’s been reported that Mr. Trump had to purchase his speaking slot with a donation to the event’s host, the American Conservative Union. Nevertheless, Trump used the event to introduce the themes that he would run and win on in 2016. Look back at that speech and you will see the beginnings of last year’s campaign. A minute in to the speech Trump proclaimed that the reason he was considering running for President was that “the United States has become a whipping post for the rest of the world”.
Thursday at this year’s CPAC event, Steve Bannon commented on that 2011 speech. “This is the room where he got his launch,” Bannon said. Bannon, who was with Breitbart News at the time, said he and those around the news organization took notice of Trump and recognized his ability. “He understands, at CPAC there are many, many, many voices,” Bannon added.
At the time of Trump’s 2011 address, Rand Paul and Scott Walker were the CPAC darlings of the ball after winning the event’s straw poll. Trump however challenged that notion by asserting that the Presidency deserved someone that was battle hardened by the real world. He spoke of his many successes and accomplishments as evidence that he could compete in the rough and tumble environment of Washington and he quoted conservative icon Steve Forbes’ as stating that “Trump was one of the greatest entrepreneurs in the history of free trade”. The billionaire TV star was laying the groundwork for a campaign and reminding us that being a lifelong ideologue doesn’t “trump” drive and determination.
If you haven’t yet seen the 2011 speech, watch this embed courtesy of Reality Report.