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He's back! Trump vows to work for election of 'strong, tough and smart Republican leaders'

Former President Trump's appearance at CPAC marked his first major appearance since departing from office last month.

Updated: March 1, 2021 - 8:54am

Former President Donald Trump returned Sunday to the public arena for the first time since leaving office, promising an enthusiastic audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he will help Republicans win "a historic struggle for America's future."

"As we gather this week we're in the middle of a historic struggle for America's future, America's culture and America's institutions, borders and most cherished principles,” he said.

“Our security, our prosperity and our very identity as Americans is at stake like perhaps at no other time. So no matter how much the Washington establishment and the powerful special interests may want to silence us, let there be no doubt, we will be victorious and America will be stronger and greater than ever before," Trump said.

Trump said that he will not be starting a new political party. 

He slammed the Biden administration, saying that President "Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history." 

"In just one short month we have gone from America first to America last," Trump declared.

America's 45th president reiterated his contention that he actually won the 2020 presidential election and indicated that he may run again: "Who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time," Trump said after claiming Democrats had really lost the recent White House contest. 

Trump called upon President Biden to reopen schools: "So on behalf of the moms, dads and children of America I call on Joe Biden to get the schools open and get them open now," he said.

"The future of the Republican Party is as a party that defends the social, economic and cultural interests and values of working American families of every race, color and creed," Trump said.

President Trump spoke about the importance of election integrity during his remarks.

"Another one of the most urgent issues facing the Republican Party is that of ensuring fair, honest and secure elections," he said. 

"We need election integrity and election reform immediately. Republicans should be the party of honest elections that can give everyone confidence in the future of our country," Trump said.

He reiterated his contention that the 2020 contest was "rigged."

"We have a very sick and corrupt electoral process that must be fixed immediately. This election was rigged and the Supreme Court and other courts didn't want to do anything about it," he said.

Trump said there should be just one Election Day. He also called for voter ID.

"There should be a legitimate reason for someone to vote absentee, has to have a reason. We should eliminate the insanity of mass and very corrupt mail-in voting. We must have voter ID," he declared.

"We need universal signature matching," the former president said. "There should be a 100% requirement to verify the citizenship of every person who votes. And there must be a chain of custody protections for every ballot," he said.

"Even if you consider nothing else, it is undeniable that election rules were illegally changed at the last minute in almost every swing state with the procedures rewritten by local politicians...and local judges...as opposed to state legislatures as required by the Constitution of the United States," Trump said.

The former president said that he "will be actively working to elect strong, tough and smart Republican leaders." 

He said that the GOP will recover both chambers of Congress as well as the White House: "With your help we will take back the House. We will win the Senate. And then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be?" Trump said. "Who, who, who will that be, I wonder?"

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