Trump paints a bleak picture and Pence tries to throw himself into dueling speeches: NPR


Former President Donald Trump speaks at the America First Policy Institute Agenda Summit in Washington, DC on Tuesday.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images


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Former President Donald Trump speaks at the America First Policy Institute Agenda Summit in Washington, DC on Tuesday.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Hours after his former No. 2 and possible 2024 arch-rival gave a speech outlining a ‘road map for conservative leaders,’ former President Trump delivered a somber and rambling speech on violent crime during his first DC appearance since he skipped Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day ceremony and left the White House in 2021.

“We need an all-out effort to defeat violent crime in America, and defeat it firmly, and be tough and mean and mean if we have to,” Trump said in remarks to the America First Policy Institute, no. far from where he gave a speech on January 6, 2021, in which he encouraged supporters he knew he was armed to march on the United States Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes.

Trump’s Speech themes taken up since his inauguration speech in 2017, in which he spoke of crime-ridden streets and “American carnage.”

“Our country is now a cesspool of crime,” he said on Tuesday. “We have blood, death and suffering on a scale once unthinkable because of the Democratic Party’s efforts to destroy and dismantle law enforcement across America.”

Trump detailed his set of policy prescriptions to tackle the gloomy picture of American society he has painted, calling for police cars to be parked on ‘every corner’, moving homeless people out from cities to “large tracts of cheap land on the outskirts of cities”, imposing the death penalty on convicted drug traffickers and reinstating stop and search policies.

According to Brennan Center for Justice, the murder rate rose nearly 30% in major cities in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available. More than 75% of murders that year were committed with a firearm, according to the CDC.

What started as a speech that seemed to stick with the teleprompter’s political message on crime turned into a crude comedy routine that poked fun at transgender people and the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.


Former Vice President Mike Pence takes questions from the crowd at the Young Americas Foundation Student Conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

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Former Vice President Mike Pence takes questions from the crowd at the Young Americas Foundation Student Conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

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Competing visions of the GOP

The dueling speeches in the nation’s capital highlight competing visions for the future of the Republican Party.

But it’s a contrast former Vice President Mike Pence was reluctant to call out.

In the Q&A portion of an event at the Young America’s Foundation on Tuesday morning, a student asked Pence if the rift between former running mates extends to the rest of the conservative movement.

Pence wavered, saying he “couldn’t be prouder of the Trump-Pence administration’s record.”

“I will always be grateful to have the opportunity to serve as vice president,” he said. “I don’t know if our movement is that divided. I don’t know if the president and I disagree on issues – we may differ on our goals.”

In his remarks, Pence laid out a “freedom agenda” that he hopes will be a “beacon to help Americans navigate these choppy waters” – emphasizing economic opportunity and reversing an “agenda awake pernicious”. He hailed the Supreme Court’s recent decision eliminating the federal right to abortionnoting that this was made possible by three judges appointed by the “Trump-Pence administration”.

At times, Pence seemed to go so far as to call his former boss by name, but instead opted for veiled references.

“Conservatism is bigger than any time, any election or any person,” he said, later adding, “We always right the ship when our leaders veer off course. .”

He repeatedly stressed that elections are about the future, not the past.

“Frankly, 2022 is perhaps the best chance we’ve ever had to build a lasting majority to reinvigorate the conservative movement to achieve the goal of conservatism and save our nation from socialism and the decline of left-wing tyranny. “, did he declare.

Pence and Trump have held separate rallies for candidates representing their own brands of conservatism, underscoring the contrast in how each wants to shape the direction of the GOP.

Ahead of Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial primary, Pence backed Karrin Taylor Robson, while Trump’s pick Kari Lake runs a campaign that echoes his false claims about the 2020 presidential election outcome .

In Georgia’s Republican primary for governor, Pence’s choice, Gov. Brian Kemp, defeated Former Trump-backed challenger Senator David Perdue

Shadow of the January 6 hearings

The pair of speeches comes days after the eighth public hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Throughout the hearings, the committee argued that Trump chose not to act as his supporters besieged the Capitol, chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” in a last-ditch effort to overturn the election results. presidential.

Pence defended his actions on the 6th as he presided over the counting of ballots on Capitol Hill, telling the conservative Federalist Society in February that Trump was “wrong” to suggest he could overturn the results.

“I had no right to void the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone,” he said. said at the time. “And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the idea that anyone could choose the American president.”

According to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Polla majority of Americans blame Trump for what happened on January 6 (57%), but only 18% of Republicans think Trump is guilty.

NPR’s Tamara Keith contributed to this report.

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