President Trump delivered a stemwinder of a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, renewing his call for trained teachers to be armed with weapons and vowing to do more to protect America's students.
“When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger,” Trump said. “Well-trained gun-adept teachers and coaches and people that work in those buildings who were in the Marines for 20 years … should be able to carry concealed firearms. It’s time to make our schools a much harder target for attackers.”
In a 75-minute speech that drew cheers and a standing ovation at the end, Trump said “Why do we protect our airports and banks, but not our schools? When we make schools gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger.”
On the school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead, Trump said, “There are not enough tears in the world to express our sorrow. They have suffered beyond anything I have ever witnessed."
As he has said since the shooting, Trump called the gunman "a sick person. We had a lot of warning about him being sick. This wasn’t a surprise. So what are we doing? We want to ensure when there are warning signs, we can act, and act quickly.”
And he noted that the armed security guard at the school failed to do his job. “A teacher would have shot the hell out of him," Trump said to cheers from the crowd.
Trump has been vocal in his desire to see changes made to protect students, offering up several proposals. But in the conservative crowd, he made sure to back the constitutional right to bear arms. "There’s nobody that loves the Second Amendment more than I do. But we really do have to strengthen up background checks. And we don’t want the mentally ill to have any form of weaponry. I really believe Congress is going to get it through this time.”
Trump also sought to reassure the conservative gathering that he still intends to push for a wall at America's southern border. “Don’t worry, you’re getting the wall.”
In a ballroom at a hotel outside Washington, D.C., Trump joked about his "bald spot," read a poem titled "The Snake," and even called his own prepared speech "boring."
At one point, Trump suddenly caught his own image on a Jumbotron screen. "What a nice picture that is, look at that, I’d love to watch that guy speak, oh God," he said as the audience began cheering. He then turned his back to the crowd — watching himself on the big screen — and pantomimed fixing his hair, primping and pressing the tops and sides.
"Ohhhhh, I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks, I work hard at it,” he said after turning back to face the crowd. “Doesn't look bad," he said, looking back at himself. "Hey, we’re hanging in, we're hanging in, we're hanging in there, right? Together we are hanging in!”
Trump also took aim at the media.
At one point early on, a protester rose up and shouted something. Security removed the man as the crowd shouted him down. Trump broke off in mid-sentence and waited for the disturbance to end — joking with event organizers about how the protester got in.
He then mocked the "fake news" about how they'll cover the minor interruption.
"For the media, the fake news back there, they took very good care of them, they were very gentle, he was very obnoxious," he said. "But tomorrow the headline will be: 'Protesters Disturb.' One person — doesn't deserve a mention, doesn't deserve a headline."