Trump eyes Reagan halo at CPAC

National Harbor, Maryland (CNN)The conservative movement is learning to love President Donald Trump. But he’s no Ronald Reagan … yet.

Thirty-six years ago, the newly inaugurated President Reagan showed up at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, to a jubilant reception.
“Our time is now. Our moment has arrived. We stand together shoulder-to-shoulder in the thickest of the fight,” Reagan announced.
    Friday, Trump hopes to engineer a pivotal political moment that will echo Reagan’s.
    “I think by tomorrow this will be TPAC,” predicted the president’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, launching an intense White House charm offensive at the conservative extravaganza on Thursday, priming the crowd for Trump’s speech.


    “So there’s a lot of diversity here … Can this Trump movement be combined with what’s (been) happening at CPAC and other conservative movements for 50 years? Can this be brought together?”
    In case anyone had missed the point, the White House rolled out the heavyweight duo of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s political guru Steve Bannon for a rare joint appearance meant to scotch reports that they are feuding.
    “President Trump brought together the party and the conservative movement. If the party and the conservative movement are together like Steve and I, it can’t be stopped,” said Priebus, a creature of the establishment, who in temperament and ideology could hardly be less like his fiery colleague from the movement’s nationalist fringe.
    Once, as Priebus was talking, a chant of “Trump, Trump, Trump,” erupted from the conference floor.
    Bannon, often seen as the hidden Machiavelli of the West Wing and the guardian of Trump’s unique political philosophy, showed how the billionaire has changed the ideological tilt of the GOP.
    Spelling out a creed of strong national defense, economic nationalism and the destruction of the regulatory state, he lauded Trump’s decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a move at odds with the Republican Party’s globalist pro-trade heritage — as “one of the pivotal moments in modern American history.”
    Bannon also fired up delegates with a vow to battle the “opposition party,” as he calls the media.
    “As economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, they’re going to continue to fight,” Bannon said. “If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day, it is going to be a fight.”

    Changing face of CPAC?

    But the newly nationalist face of conservatism embraced by Trump and his acolytes has some traditional adherents of the movement nervous.
    Conservative commentator David Frum said on Twitter that Bannon had been “impressively candid” about Trump’s agenda of launching a “series of trade wars” across the world.
    “Reince says Trump administration is about taxes & regulation. Bannon says it’s about overturning the global order. Nuances,” Frum wrote.
    Ahead of the conference, CPAC retracted a speaking invitation to nationalist polemicist Milo Yiannopoulos after comments in which he appeared to endorse sex between “younger boys and older men.”
    Yiannopoulos also resigned from Breitbart News, the conservative news site formerly run by Bannon.
    As they embrace the populist, nationalist brand of conservatism espoused by Trump, CPAC organizers are also taking steps to shield their brand from more extreme elements including the alt-right movement that has in some cases backed the new President or used his rise to gain more notoriety for itself.
    Some alt-right activists are accused of harboring extreme, racist and anti-Semitic views, and the ACU’s Executive Director Dan Schneider warned delegates that its “sinister” influence is trying to “worm its way” into their ranks.
    “They are racists, they are sexists, they hate the Constitution, they hate free markets, they hate pluralism,” Schneider said.
    “They despise everything we believe in. They are not an extension of conservatism. They are nothing but garden variety left-wing fascists.”

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