Trump’s remarks came as he kicked off his two-week winter getaway with the keynote address to Turning Point USA’s annual student action summit here, not far from his Mar-a-Lago resort. It was a chance to bask in the love of some of his fiercest supporters, with scores of twenty-somethings donning “Make America Great Again” hats and rhinestone “TRUMP” hair clips.
But if the president’s speech was meant to fire up thousands of college-aged conservatives, he couldn’t help but complain about the way he’s been treated on Capitol Hill.
“They had nothing, there’s no crime. There’s no nothing, how do you impeach you had no crime,” Trump said. “Even their own lawyers said they have no impeachment, what are doing here? The world is watching.”
Trump was charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Wednesday for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and then blocking the House’s inquiry. Trump is infuriated by the stain on his legacy but has sought to emphasize how Republican lawmakers have stuck by him.
“What kind of great support did we have from those great congressmen and women this week? They were fantastic,” Trump said. “And I guess the vote was 196 to nothing, we had three Democrats coming to our side so we have to say it was a bipartisan vote.”
The president invited Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who spoke earlier in the program, to come up onstage and Crenshaw handed him his red “no” voting card.
“I’ll save that Dan,” Trump said, putting the card in his jacket pocket.
After being prompted from an audience member who yelled “Where’s Hunter?” the president launched into a discussion of Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, in an echo of the speech his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani gave on the opening day of the summit.
“This is why they don’t like what I’m doing in Ukraine. Because you know who was making big bucks in Ukraine?” Giuliani asked the audience. “Biden!” the audience replied.
Trump delivered a red meat speech that touched on everything from immigration and the border wall, to longtime enemies like “Never Trumpers” and windmills.
“Why is it okay for these windmills to kill the bird population?” Trump said in a long, colorful riff on wind turbines.
But the president seemed to get the biggest kick out of doing informal polls of the audience, first noting the standing ovation he got when he mentioned creating the Space Force, and then asking the audience to tell him which slogan they like better: “Make America Great Again” or “Keep America Great.” The audience overwhelmingly cheered for “KAG.”
“KAG is becoming cool,” Trump said.
Trump spoke for over an hour to the Turning Point USA supporters. The conservative student organization has grown to include 1,500 chapters at schools in every state with a mission to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”
According to an organizer, the event attracted around 5,000 people — mostly high school and college students — who were eager to hear from conservative activists, lawmakers and pundits.
The weekend’s list of speakers read like a who’s who of MAGA world: Giuliani, Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, commentators Dinesh D’Souza and Glenn Beck, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The president was introduced by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Turning Point USA is the creation of 26-year old Charlie Kirk, who Trump calls “my great friend.” He’s a frequent guest at the White House and boasts of having the ear of Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner.
Kirk has become a fixture on television as a voice for pro-Trump, conservative millenials and Generation Z. It’s a demographic that Trump has struggled with nationally — 67 percent of people aged 18-29 disapprove of Trump, according to a recent Morning Consult poll.
But in the West Palm Beach convention center, there was nothing but love for Trump and Trumpism, with a mostly white crowd of young people packed into a large ballroom for the chance to see the president. Many looked Fox News-ready, wearing slicked back hair and suits, or tight shift dresses, curled hair and strappy high heels.
Outside the ballroom, participants posed in front of a “FOX Nation” backdrop, and were able to pick up items like a sweatshirt with a collage of Trump’s face, “MAGA” purses, and $75 silk Trump scarves.
“It brings people together who have similar values, and you feel like you can express yourself,” said Shekinah Geist, 21, from Greeley, Colo. Geist, an African American college student, visited the White House earlier this year with the organization. “I think Turning Point is special because it shows different sides of the political spectrum that aren’t popular with people our age.”
Trump encouraged the students to take their enthusiasm to the polls next November.
“You know what, the best is yet to come, you know that,” Trump said. “After we win the election, let’s see if we can put everybody together, because it would be a great thing. But we have to win the election, and we have to win the election big.”