Conservative Column: CPAC: Where Trump’s personality meets Washington, D.C. networking


Most of my previous columns have centered on policy proposals and directives, but this time I wanted to speak a little bit about my own experience in the political world.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to take the Franciscan University YAF chapter to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington D.C.

A four-day affair, the conference can be best described as the biggest conservative party of the year. Attendees had opportunities to hear some of the biggest conservative names in politics speak, network with peers and speak to representatives from some of the nation’s leading conservative organizations.

But every single one of these was overshadowed by the Saturday morning headliner — President Donald Trump.

There is something about seeing President Trump speak live that is quite unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. The way the president feeds off the energy of the crowd is remarkable.

The reality-TV president is nothing short of a master entertainer.

Following his introduction by the chairman of CPAC, Matt Schlapp, the president walked out to the sounds of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and proceeded to embrace the American flag on the edge of the stage.

Say what you wish about the president’s character or his policies, but there is no denying the fact that he truly loves his country. The image of him hugging the flag encapsulates this in the most Trump-esque way.

The president (after waiting for the song to play in its entirety) then proceeded to give a two-hour speech that touched mostly on his trade policies but also relentlessly mocked Democrats for their continued rush to the extreme left.

Trump is at his best in front of his base. Unlike most politicians, the president’s tendency to ignore his scripted remarks provides voters a window into his personality and helps them connect with him.

CPAC marked the fifth time I’ve seen the president live and the fourth time I’ve seen him speak. Each time his unique personality has shone through regardless of the circumstances, delivering speeches that fit the situation but also remain uniquely Trumpian.

Last summer, in a far cry from the mocking and joking he did at CPAC, I saw the president give a series of measured and serious remarks on Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery.

While that speech lacked the humor and the cheering crowd, President Trump honored the nation’s veterans and fallen heroes with the same authentic personality that so many people connect with.

From his tweets and press conferences to his speeches and rallies, the president’s personality shines through in everything he does. His lack of filter allows him to connect with the average working class American in the way that most politicians do not, even if it means being a little vulgar at times.

CPAC, unlike most of Trump’s rallies, isn’t full of working-class Americans. It is full of people who support him but are mostly trying to get into the business of politics. Primarily, it is a networking bonanza.

But regardless, Trump still played to his audience and gave the crowd a two-hour show that turned out to be the longest speech of his presidency, and I sure won’t soon forget the energy that that crowd of 5,000 people made in that ballroom just outside of Washington D.C.