Feb. 23 (UPI) — President Donald Trump took the stage Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, urging Republicans to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections and reiterating his support for arming schoolteachers.
“We have a problem. We need more Republicans. We have a group of people that vote against us in a bloc. They’re good at two things, resisting and obstruction, and they stick together,” Trump said. “Don’t be complacent. If they get in, they’ll repeal your tax cuts, they’ll put judges in that you wouldn’t believe. They’ll take away your Second Amendment, which we will never allow to happen.”
Trump opened the speech touting first-year successes like confirming a record number of circuit court judges, confirming a new Supreme Court justice, picking up 2.7 million jobs, killing non-necessary job regulations, ending the war on clean coal and passing tax reform.
“My administration has had the most successful first year in the history of the presidency,” Trump said. “We’ve passed massive, the biggest in history, tax cuts and reforms. … The beautiful thing about the tax cuts is nobody thought we could do it.”
Trump said he would have had health reform, too, if it had not been for one senator, who gave a thumb’s-down to the vote, referring to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Trump addressed several issues, including standing for the national anthem and paying respect to late evangelist Billy Graham, who will lie in honor Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
On last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Trump paid tribute to the survivors.
“Our whole nation was moved by their strength and courage,” Trump said.
He reaffirmed support for arming school personnel. He said his administration is open to hearing ideas on how to improve security at schools, tackle the issue of mental health and ensure when there are warning signs to act quickly.
“Why do we protect our airports, banks and government buildings but not our schools? It’s time to make our schools much harder target for attackers,” Trump said. “When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger.”
Trump said a major deterrent would be to allow concealed carry permits on school campuses.
“Well-trained, gun-adept teachers and coaches and people that work in those buildings, adept with weaponry and guns — this would be a major deterrent because these people are cowards,” Trump said.
Rather than having armed guards stationed around schools, Trump said teachers, coaches and other staff who are adept with a gun are the best form of protection because they love their students.
“A teacher would have shot the hell out of him,” Trump said, referring to the Florida gunman.
The president also mentioned allowing the same policy on U.S. military bases and toughening background checks.
“We don’t want people who are mentally ill to have any form of weaponry,” he said.
Trump said Democrats, who he called “crazed,” are no longer interested in talking about the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals immigration program. He said even though they gave in on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, they have not agreed on laws to accompany the protection, on the visa lottery and chain migration.
Responding to someone in the audience, he assured them the wall will be built.
“You’re getting a wall, don’t worry,” Trump said, which was followed by a chant of, “build the wall.”
Trump said a strong nation must have strong borders, and said within the walls “we’re cracking down on sanctuary cities. We want our cities to be sanctuaries for law abiding citizens not for criminals.”
“Democrats are always fighting for the criminal they are not fighting for law abiding citizens,” he said.
In his speech, Trump also announced his administration’s “largest-ever” sanctions on the North Korean regime.
“The Treasury Department will soon be taking new action to further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that the regime uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military by targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses that are assisting North Korea in evading sanctions,” he said.
Also scheduled to speak at CPAC Friday are White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and British politician Nigel Farrage.