Just a few miles up the Potomac, not many people think Donald Trump will be the 47th President of the United States. But at National Harbor this weekend, the huge exhibition halls were flooded with the belief that the former head of state will also be the future one. "We have to finish what we started," said Gretchen Nogle, a Republican activist from Virginia.
Trump was the star of the annual Conservative Conference, the last speaker to be celebrated for around two hours on Saturday evening. "UNITED STATES! USA!” and “Four more years!” echoed through the hall. A home game for the 76-year-old, especially since "Cpac" was able to come up with far fewer A-list Republicans this time.
Neither Trump's former deputy Mike Pence nor Ron DeSantis, who is probably the fiercest internal party competitor, attended the meeting south of the capital Washington. Only former UN ambassador Nikki Haley dared to enter the ring. Haley has already officially announced her candidacy, which brought her many boos from thousands of Trump supporters.
For the latter, the conference brought a supposed certainty that they have been waiting for. Your political idol got 62 percent of the votes in a poll, DeSantis came in second with 20 percent.
However, the governor of Florida has not yet announced whether he intends to run for the presidency. Haley only got three percent in a poll. However, this should be viewed with caution because it was only carried out among the participants of the conference, of whom around 2000 took part.
For Europe, the conservative meeting also brought an old certainty: with a re-elected Trump, the USA would no longer be the clearly reliable security guarantor. "NATO should take care of Ukraine - not the US. We've already spent $140 billion," said the former US President, adding: "If you don't pay, I'm not protecting you from Russia!"
At the beginning of his term in office in 2017, Trump made it clear through loud criticism, especially of Germany, that in his view the European financial contribution to NATO was not enough. “Out of 28 states, only eight paid their contribution at the time. As a result, I raised $450 billion. That’s why things are going so well at the moment.”
In any case, instead of building a fallen Manhattan skyscraper at a cost of three billion US dollars as the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, NATO should have “rather commissioned a nice, deep bunker with a three-meter-thick concrete ceiling for 500 million. A tank can flatten the current building in 15 minutes,” Trump said on Saturday, to the cheers of his supporters.
Of which 79 percent in the above-mentioned survey reject military support for Ukraine. A rejection not universally shared among Americans, but shared by a growing number of Republicans. Which gives an idea of how Donald Trump will use Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine in the forthcoming struggle between the Republicans, primarily for his own political goals.