A CNN reporter fretted Monday about former President Donald Trump’s fiery declaration that his 2024 campaign was “retribution” during a Saturday speech at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Trump, who announced his 2024 presidential bid Nov. 15, delivered a speech that lasted more than an hour and a half that criticized Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republicans over the war in Ukraine and efforts to rein in Social Security and Medicare spending.
“The fact that Donald Trump ran away with the poll. The fact that he’s leading with that message of retribution — we need to keep our eye on that ball,” CNN reporter John Avlon said to “CNN This Morning” co-hosts Kaitlan Collins and Don Lemon.
Trump won the CPAC straw poll with 62% of the vote, followed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida with 20%. Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he was offered a second-place finish in the CPAC straw poll if he paid a consultant “a few hundred thousand dollars.”
“In 2016, I declared: I am your voice,” Trump said to CPAC attendees. “Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution.”
“It is very easy to treat Trump as a sideshow because if you look at his posts on Truth Social, if you look at that rambling, 145-minute lie-filled speech, you’d say this is someone who is not well,” Avlon said. “And yet, we need to concede he’s, right now, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, and the more crowded the primary is, the more likely he is to win.”
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and businessman Perry Johnson announced their candidacy, while DeSantis has not yet announced his decision about whether or not he would run.
“I think we need to be wide-eyed about that right now,” Avlon said.
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