The first day of this year's all-important Conservative Political Action Conference, a summit for top Republican politicians and operatives heading into a presidential election cycle, wasn't dominated by Newt Gingrich or Tim Pawlenty or any other actual Republican politician. It was Donald Trump, the wealthy television clown, who stole the show with the blunt, meandering speech he'd invited himself to deliver at the last minute.
Why was Donald Trump even at this conference for dyed-in-the-wool conservative activists and humorless Ayn Rand cultists? Apparently he's still pretending to consider a run for the Republican presidential nomination, just like he was four months ago. And in his speech today he said he'd reach a decision by June, which gives him another four months to win cheap headlines by pretending to consider a run for president.
His speech, like all good Donald Trump speeches, was a stream-of-consciousness flushing of whatever arrogant quips were swirling through his thick head at the time. Here's a sampler:
"If I run and if I win," he said, "this country will be respected again. I can tell you that."
He told the crowd that he would decide by June whether or not he would enter the Republican presidential primary. Trump said the Obama administration had badly bungled almost all aspects of policy – foreign and domestic.
"The United States has become a whipping post for the rest of the world," he said. "The world is treating us without respect — they are not treating us properly."
During his speech, which was added to the CPAC agenda at the last-minute, Trump hinted that the time may be right for him to run for president, arguing that he had had at least as much experience as President Obama.
"Our current president came out of nowhere," Trump said.
And then he just started picking fights from the podium, to show off:
Mr. Trump got lots of loud applause. But that turned into loud and extended boos after an audience member yelled the name of Ron Paul, the Republican congressman from Texas and a potential 2012 presidential candidate.
"By the way, Ron Paul cannot get elected, I'm sorry," he responded, prompting the negative response. "I like Ron Paul. I think he's a good guy. But really he has just zero chance of getting elected."
An audience member yelled out: "You have no chance either!"
You can watch this Ron Paul exchange in the clip up top. Trump apparently isn't very familiar with Republican conferences or early presidential straw polls. If he was, he'd know that saying "Ron Paul cannot get elected" directly to the Paul supporters' faces is, in the minds of Paul cultists, a declaration of nuclear war. Donald Trump should expect at least one billion raging ALL CAPS emails with V for Vendetta quotes from the Paul crowd in the next week.