Trump returns to Washington to give a political speech

WASHINGTON (AP) — The former president donald trump He will return to Washington on Tuesday for the first time since leaving office, delivering a policy speech to an allied think tank that has been crafting an agenda for a possible second term.

Trump will address the America First Policy Institute’s two-day America First Agenda Summit as some advisers urge him to spend more time talking about his vision for the future and less time re-litigating the 2020 election as he prepares. to announce an expected campaign for the White House in 2024.

“I think it’s going to be a very policy-focused, progressive speech, a lot like State of the Union 5.0,” said Brooke Rollins, president of AFPI. Made up of former Trump administration officials and allies, the nonprofit is widely viewed as a “standby administration” that could quickly move to the West Wing if Trump were to run again and win.

Trump’s appearance in Washington, his first trip back since January 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden took office, comes as his potential 2024 rivals have been taking increasingly overt steps to challenge his status as party flag bearer. They include former Vice President Mike Pence, who has been touting their own “Freedom Agenda” in speeches that serve as an implicit contrast to Trump.

“Some people may choose to focus on the past, but I think conservatives need to focus on the future. If we do, we will not only win the next election, we will change the course of American history for generations,” Pence had planned to say in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on the eve of Trump’s visit. Pence’s appearance was postponed due to bad weather, but he will deliver his own speech Tuesday morning before the Young America Foundation, not far from the AFPI meeting.

Trump has spent much of his time since leaving office obsessing over the 2020 election and spreading lies about his loss to cast doubt on Biden’s victory. In fact, even as the january 6 committee was exposing his desperate and potentially illegal attempts to stay in power and his refusal to fire a violent mob of his supporters as they tried to stop the peaceful transition of power, Trump continued to try to pressure officials to overturn Biden’s victory. , despite the fact that there are no legal means to decertify the past elections.

On Tuesday, he plans to focus on public safety.

“President Trump sees a nation in decline fueled, in part, by rising crime and communities becoming less safe under Democratic policies,” said his spokeswoman, Taylor Budowich. America First’s vision for public safety sure to be a defining issue during the midterms and beyond.”

Beyond the summit, staff at the America First Policy Institute have been laying the groundwork for the future, “making sure we have the policies, staff and process in place for every key agency when we take back the White House,” Rollins said. said.

The nonprofit grew, he said, out of efforts to head off the chaotic early days of Trump’s first term, when he arrived at the White House unprepared, with no clear plans in place. As Trump was running for re-election, Rollins, then head of Trump’s National Policy Council, began outlining a second-term agenda with other administration officials, including top economic policy adviser Larry Kudlow and national security adviser Robert O’Brien.

When it became clear that Trump would leave the White House, he said, AFPI was created to continue that work “organized around the second-term agenda that we never published.”

The organization, once dismissed as a landing zone for former Trump administration officials barred from more lucrative jobs, has grown into a behemoth, with an operating budget of about $25 million and 150 employees, including 17 former senior White House officials and nine former officials. Cabinet members.

The group also has more than 20 policy centers and has tried to extend its reach beyond Washington with efforts to influence local legislatures and school boards. An “American leadership initiative,” spearheaded by former Office of Personnel Management chief Michael Rigas, launched several weeks ago to identify future personnel loyal to Trump and his “America First” approach who could be hired as part of a greater effort. to replace large swaths of the civil service, such as Axios recently reported.

The group is one of several Trump-allied organizations that have continued to push his policies in his absence, including America First Legal, dedicated to fighting Biden’s agenda through the court system, the Center for Renewing America and the Conservative Partnership Institute.

The goal of the summit is to highlight AFPI’s “America First Agenda,” focused on 10 key policy areas including the economy, health care and election security. It includes many of Trump’s trademark themes, such as continuing to build a wall along the southern border and a plan to “dismantle the administrative state.”

In a speech Monday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose “Contract with America” ​​has been credited with helping Republicans win the 1994 midterm elections, hailed the effort as key to future Republican Party victory.

“The American people want solutions,” he said.

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