Trump pushes law-and-order policy in first D.C. speech since leaving White House


Former President Trump, giving his first speech in Washington since leaving office, attacked soft-on-crime policies on Tuesday for leading to a national wave of violence in many U.S. cities, and said police must be allowed to do their jobs.

“Under the Democrat rule, in Democrat-run cities, Democrat-run states and a Democrat-run federal government, the criminals have been given free rein more than ever before. There’s never been a time like this,” Mr. Trump told the America First Policy Institute summit at a Washington hotel.

He said American streets “are riddled with needles and soaked with the blood of innocent victims.”

“Many of our once great cities from New York to Chicago to LA, where the middle class used to flock to live the American dream, are now war zones, literal war zones,” the former president said.

Mr. Trump called for national concealed carry reciprocity and urged lawmakers to give law enforcement their authority and resources back.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Mr. Trump, and he delivered the speech to a crowd of supporters and political allies at a new think tank dedicated to his America First philosophy. Much of his address was devoted to restoring law and order, and enforcing the border — public safety policies he pursued in office.

SEE ALSO: Former Trump officials clash ahead of former president’s D.C. speech at policy think tank

Mr. Trump returned to Washington at a time when the GOP is split among those who support him making another run for the White House and others who would rather see another Republican run for president.

According to recent polling, Mr. Trump has the support of the majority of Republican voters, but the hearings by the Jan. 6 Select Committee broadcasted about the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol have taken a political toll on the former president’s popularity.

A Quinnipiac poll earlier this month shows 69% of Republicans want Mr. Trump to run in 2024, a decline of 11 points from the 78% in October who said they wanted him to run.

The 2024 GOP nominee could face off against Mr. Biden, whose own approval numbers have spiraled downward. Polls show a majority of Democrats also don’t want Mr. Biden to run for another term.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has been at odds with Mr. Trump since he refused to block Congress’ certification of Mr. Biden’s election win, delivered a speech just hours early at the nearby Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Still, the former vice president hailed the accomplishments of the “Trump-Pence administration” in installing three justices who made possible the recent ruling that overturned nationwide abortion rights.

“We sent Roe versus Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs,” said Mr. Pence. “We save the babies, we’ll save America.”

Mr. Pence also focused on the troubles plaguing America under Mr. Biden. He called for the GOP to focus on the future, an apparent reference to Mr. Trump’s continued claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him by Democrats.

“Now some people may choose to focus on the past, but elections are about the future and I believe conservatives must focus on the future to win back America,” Mr. Pence said.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence are both eyeing runs for the White House in 2024. Mr. Trump lobbed the first attack at his former vice president last month at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference in Nashville, Tennessee, for not intervening in the congressional certification of the presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be frankly historic,” Mr. Trump said. “But just like [former Attorney General] Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike – and I say it sadly because I like him – but Mike did not have the courage to act.”

In Washington on Tuesday, Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized Democrats and the defund-police movement for causing lawlessness across the U.S.

“We have to leave our police alone. Every time they do something, they’re afraid they’re going to be destroyed and that their pensions are going to be taken away,” Mr. Trump said. “Let them do their job, give them back the respect that they deserve.”

He rattled off a list of recent violent crimes that happened in major cities, and pointed to Democratic policies as the root of the problem.

“Drugged-out lunatics attack innocent victims at random. Roving mobs of thieves walked into the stores and walk out with whatever merchandise they can carry. They’re left alone. Nobody tells them, ‘Don’t do this. Put it back now,’” he said.

“We are living in such a different country,” Mr. Trump said. “For one primary reason, there is no longer respect of the law, and there certainly is no border. Our country is now a cesspool of crime. We have blood, death and suffering on a scale once unthinkable because of the Democrat Party’s effort to destroy and dismantle law enforcement.”

The America First Policy Institute, founded by former senior officials from the Trump administration, was a two-day event that featured a host of prominent conservative figures promoting policies for the next GOP administration.

AFPI’s speakers focused on policies around the Republican Party’s plans to confront inflation, establish law and order, develop economic prosperity and promote border security.

AFPI’s lineup included former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; former Energy Secretary Rick Perry; Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee; and Reps. Richard Hudson of North Carolina, Claudia Tenney of New York and Byron Donalds of Florida.


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