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Trump denounces Democrats as party of 'the socialist nightmare'

President Donald Trump hugs the American flag as he arrives to speak at Conservative Political Action Conference. Picture by Jose Luis Magana/AP
Kevin Freking

PRESIDENT Donald Trump denounced Democrats as the party of "the socialist nightmare" and attacked several other groups in a speech that earned adoration of cheering conservatives.

After a trying week that saw setbacks in his meeting in Vietnam, President Trump delivered rousing speech that extended beyond two hours.

The president let loose against House Democrats, predicting he would win re-election by a greater margin than his 2016 victory and taunted his potential White House challengers.

He complained often of getting "no credit" for his achievements as he proudly drifted "off script" at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

It took him more than an hour to get to the message that Republicans and members of his administration have been emphasising in recent weeks as they try to brand Democratic policy ideas as socialism.

"America will never be a socialist country," he said. "Socialism is not about the environment, it's not about justice, it's not about virtue."

He said it is about "power for the ruling class".

For every prepared line like that, there were multiple improvisations from the president on policy and personality.

"That's how I got elected – by being off script," Trump said early in his speech as the crowd roared its approval.

He took particular delight in going after the Democrats' Green New Deal, brought forward by some liberal Democrats in Congress and backed to varying degrees by several of the party's 2020 presidential candidates.

"I think the New Green Deal or whatever the hell they call it – the Green New Deal – I encourage it," President Trump said mockingly.

"I think it's really something that they should promote. They should work hard on it... no planes, no energy. When the wind stops blowing that's the end of your electric. Let's hurry up. Darling, is the wind blowing today? I'd like to watch television, darling."

He also turned the topic into an attack on Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the top Democratic contenders for president.

"I'm going to regret this. This speech should have been delivered one year from now, not now, damn it." President Trump said.

"I should have saved the Pocahontas thing for another year because that destroyed her political career and now I won't get a chance to run against her. I don't want to knock out all of the good stuff and wind up with somebody who's actually got talent."

President Trump also went after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, essentially accusing him of being a drag on the economy.

"We have a gentleman that likes raising interest rates in the Fed. We have a gentleman that loves quantitative tightening in the Fed. We have a gentleman that likes a very strong dollar in the Fed," President Trump said, "With all of that, we're doing great. Can you imagine if we left interest rates where they were?"

The president defended his declaration of a national emergency to obtain wall funding beyond the $1.4 bn that Congress approved for border security.

He said the order does not set a bad precedent for future administrations because Democrats are "going to do that anyway, folks. The best way to stop that is to make sure I win the election".

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