On Friday morning, Axios’s Mike Allen argued that President Trump was stuck in the mud. The conflicts that define his presidency in February of 2018—fights over issues like trade, fights between staff members, the unending fight with the media—were all present exactly a year ago, in the early days of his presidency. “February 2018 is no different than February 2017,” Allen wrote.
Judging by the 77-minute speech that Trump gave at CPAC on Friday, it’s no different than February of 2016 either. Supporters chanted, “Lock her up.” Trump read from “The Snake,” and promised to build a wall. He re-litigated his feud with John McCain. He railed against the “crooked candidate” he ran against in 2016 and the “crooked media” that has been his primary foil. When he finally ended his speech, his 2016 campaign anthem, the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” blared from the speakers.
There were some new additions, of course. In response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Trump demanded that the government arm teachers and turn schools into fortresses to curb gun violence. “When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger,” Trump said. If school staff members in Parkland were armed, he said, “a teacher would’ve shot the hell out of [the shooter] before he even knew what happened.”
But for the most part, Trump was comfortably in campaign mode—ranting about Democrats, ranting about the Second Amendment, ranting about Hillary Clinton, ranting about the media. The main difference was that Trump is now touting the message he will use as he heads into 2020: that he has kept his promises.
Well, in classic Trump fashion keeping promises isn’t enough. Instead, Trump told the crowd that he had become the first president to ever fulfill more promises than he made, whatever that means. This beggars belief, given that Trump has broken a great deal of promises—according to Politifact he’s fulfilled only 9 percent of the pledges he made on the campaign trail in 2016. But this will be the message Trump carries into 2020: “All I’ve done is keep my promises.”