This year’s CPAC was a first for me, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Conservative leaders from every state and many countries gathered to celebrate the successes of conservatism, especially in the last two years, with President Donald J. Trump leading the pack as our fearless commander-in-chief.
Speakers like Sabastian Gorka, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Mark Levin, Vice President Pence, and POTUS himself gathered for the nation’s largest Trump rally. An encouraging omen was the incredible turnout by college and high school-age folks, fired up to make change on campus and in communities across the nation, including New Mexico.
Issues like the border and late-term abortion dominated the conference, especially as insane legislation travels through legislatures across the nation, intent on sacrificing human life in the name of euphemisms like “choice,” and meant to weaken our national security by abandoning America’s great Border Patrol and Immigration & Customs Enforcement Officers.
It was clear that as the Left went farther and farther to the extreme, the conservative base formed as more unified and more determined to win next November.
I woke up at 3:00 AM to get a good seat for President Trump’s scheduled 11:30 speech and had the privilege of standing in line with and sitting next to two nurses who were at the hotel for a conference. They coincidentally were HUGE Trump fans and decided to skip the day of their conference to watch our fearless President. They told me of the folks they knew back home and the problems they faced back home in Florida.
Other people in line that I spoke to included farmers from Montana, theatre majors from Wyoming, energetic New Yorkers, leather jacket-wearing biker gals, and college Republicans from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A smorgasbord of talents, backgrounds, stories, and dreams lined the Gaylord International Hotel, all in support of President Trump. Trump’s base is genuinely made up of not only “old, white men” as the media would love for the public to believe. Trump’s base is full of REAL Americans from every walk of life.
Trump, as he does so well, kept the audience captivated throughout his nearly 2 ½ hour speech, going through almost every topic on the agenda, from AOC’s “Green New Deal,” his lonely New Years in the White House, and Jeff Session’s recusal from the Mueller Russia witch hunt. Amazingly, as the speech neared the two-hour mark, the crowd got even more energized, and my hands were red from clapping so long and hard.
The same fire I saw from Trump in September 2015 at my first Trump rally in Dallas was even more present during this speech, where he clearly gets energized by the crowd, and speaks to Americans like a real guy: not some politically correct politician, with the sole care of getting elected and re-elected over and over again. Hilariously, in his speech, Trump mocked politicians doing this, making light of his “cabin fever” in the White House over the Christmas holiday, saying “And I figured it would look good if I stayed in the White House so that you people all love me and vote for me, okay”?
When the President spoke about the border, especially when he proclaimed “Because without borders, as I’ve said many times before, we don’t have a country,” the whole ballroom jumped from their seats and gave the President a round of applause, myself included, as the border is one of the most central issues. The border crisis hits home for me, especially since New Mexico, where vast tracts of land on our southern border are unsecured, and now abandoned by our National Guard at the direction of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is in the process of suing President Trump for using his Congressionally-granted power of the National Emergency.
President Trump addressed the fundamental issue of clearing dead brush from our national forests, as he mentioned Gavin Newsom and other environmental activists trying to stop the practice, although it is central to preventing forest fires. The President said:
“When a tree falls, you can’t let the environmentalist say you can’t take that tree out. It becomes like a matchstick, that tree. It hits a flame. It goes up. The leaves — every once in a while, you have to remove the leaves because they are so — a guy smoking a cigarette, he throws it away, he doesn’t mean it. The thing catches on fire, and we lose 400,000 acres, and people are killed.”
The issue, as Otero County Commissioner Cuoy Griffin explained to me at CPAC is a huge problem in places like the community of Cloudcroft in the Lincoln National Forest, where the dead trees are a massive fire hazard if they aren’t cleared.
In another portion of President Trump’s speech, he told the audience how his friends suddenly changed the way they spoke to him after becoming president, using the title of “Mr. President” to address him instead of “Donald.” He laughed along with the crowd about one of his longtime friends calling him up and addressed him with the formal Mr. President. He responded, “Richard, lighten up. Lighten up…. Call me ‘Donald.’”
The President’s weaving of personal stories and real-life experiences from constituents like Hayden Williams, a student who was assaulted at Berkely for exercising his free speech, to U.S. generals in Iraq named “Raisin Cain,” he showed the world how he is a president of the people, and without us he would never be able to make America great again.
As A New Mexican, I was honored to have the opportunity to speak with real folks about the real issues and meet some incredible leaders in the conservative movement. CPAC 2019 gave me hope, not only for our nation but for our beautiful home state. I have a feeling that just over the horizon, we will see a day of prosperity and domination again. Until then, let’s keep up the good work and never stop fighting for our God-given liberties in the beautiful Land of Enchantment.