Trump and Bolsonaro take aim at the usual suspects on the final day of CPAC
By ITV News Washington DC Producer Will Tullis As the Maryland crowd rose to their feet with raucous cheers, it confirmed we were firmly in Trump territory. Donald Trump entered the stage on Saturday evening (March 4) as the headline act at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
The former US president rounded off a week of speeches from some of the foremost right-wingers from the United States and beyond. The 76-year-old - who is running for the Republican presidential nomination - made familiar, unfounded claims that the 2020 election was "stolen", derided the Democrats as "extremists", and praised his own record in office in a nearly two-hour speech. In a room full of his most ardent supporters, he accused President Joe Biden of leading the country into "oblivion" with his support for Ukraine. "We are never going back to a party that wants to give unlimited money to fight foreign endless wars but demands we cut veteran benefits and retirement benefits at home", Trump said. "I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War Three", he added.
President Biden has said the US remains committed to supporting Ukraine with its longer-term security requirements.
Fellow candidate for the Republican nomination Nikki Haley spoke on Friday (March 3), while Florida governor Ron DeSantis - widely expected to be Trump's most serious threat to the nomination - didn't attend.
Perhaps notable yet unsurprising is that when Trump took to the CPAC stage, he was introduced as "the next president of the United States", dispelling any doubts about who the event organisers are backing against other Republicans. Earlier in the day, former Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro was a warm-up act well-received by the conservative crowd. Dubbed by some as the "Trump of the Tropics", Bolsonaro failed in his bid for a second term in October, losing to rival Lula da Silva. The 67-year-old never formally conceded or admitted defeat. Violence ensued in the months after, with Bolsonaro's supporters storming Brazil's Congress, Presidential Palace and other government buildings.
I asked Bolsonaro at CPAC whether he'll run for the presidency next time round in 2026. "That's a long way away", he told me. He didn't respond when I asked whether he accepts he lost the election to Lula.
Bolsonaro's CPAC slot was shorter than Trump's, but the former soldier's twenty minute speech was full to the brim with the pro-gun, anti-vaccine rhetoric that has dominated throughout this conference. The former Brazilian president got perhaps his biggest cheer of the day when he reminded the crowd of how he had increased gun ownership in Brazil over his four years in office.
Some of the Bolsonaro-supporting members of the US's Brazilian community living came in support.
Rogério Santos travelled from Chicago from the conference.
"Bolsonaro is a legend, he is the best president in Brazil's history", Rogério - who wore a tracksuit in the yellow and green colours of Brazil's flag - told ITV News.After Trump brought four days of conservative speeches to a close, a sea of supporters in Make America Great Again caps poured out of the Maryland convention centre amidst a carnival atmosphere.
But there's certainly a long way to go. Preaching to the converted - as Trump did at CPAC - is one thing. Winning over the Republican party and then - possibly - the country, is another.