CPAC 2017 grassroots 'thrilled' by Trump, embrace president's victory and agenda

CPAC 2017 grassroots 'thrilled' by Trump, embrace president's victory and agenda
CPAC 2017 grassroots 'thrilled' by Trump, embrace president's victory and agenda

Jordan Evans, a transgender Republican from Massachusetts, held a sign in the hall outside protesting Trump's decision to reverse President Barack Obama's order allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.

Asked what she thought of Trump, though, and she was quick to add there were things she liked about president's first month, starting with his plan to remove regulations whenever new ones are submitted.

"I don't want to write him off," she said.

Taking a transactional approach, attendees cited a recurring set of moves by Trump that had helped keep their spirits up.

Many brought up Vice President Mike Pence, who they hoped would have a strong hand in guiding policy, as key to their support.

"I wish it just said Pence," one student in a Trump/Pence hat told NBC . Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court earned uniform praise. Some cited individual cabinet choices, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos or Secretary Tom Price, as a signaled a turn toward conservatism.

"Obviously he had a conversion to conservatism at some point," Ronald Wilcox, an organizer with the Northern Virginia tea party who supported Trump in the primaries, said. "Pence, Gorsuch: That's a real track record."

That record will be tested in the coming months. Trump has yet to produce a specific plan on health care, tax reform, or infrastructure spending, among other issues, all of which have the potential to divide conservatives depending on where he comes down.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who delivered a CPAC speech mocking Trump's conservative credentials in 2016, urged activists to trust, but verify, when it came to the new administration's agenda.

"The message I am conveying to President Trump, to the Cabinet, to leaders in both houses, is real simple: Let's do what we promised," Cruz said.

Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, called the election results "wonderful" but suggested in his remarks that conservatives need to keep a close eye on the new Republican government.

"All the guardians of the swamp are already whispering in the ear of Republicans in the Congress and in the White House telling them not to keep their promises," DeMint said.


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