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Trump Tells Packed House: Leaving ‘Easy’ Life Was Worth It

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—Although he has faced investigations and persecution since becoming a politician in 2015, former President Donald Trump declared that, yes, he would do it all over again “without even a question.”

That was Mr. Trump’s response when a successful businessman wondered whether he regretted leaving behind a cushy life as a billionaire real-estate mogul.

Mr. Trump recounted that conversation for a standing-room-only crowd at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

During his July 15 speech, Mr. Trump described his two recent indictment ordeals and told the audience: “I had a nice, easy life. What I do for you, you have no idea.”

The crowd of about 6,000 people sprang to its feet, cheering and applauding.

Epoch Times Photo
Fans of former President Donald Trump, corralled in an overflow area, aim their cellphone cameras toward him as he takes the stage at Turning Point Action Conference at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on July 15, 2023. (Janice Hisle/The Epoch Times)

Still, Mr. Trump said the reward has been worth the cost. His presidency produced a stronger American economy, a more secure U.S. border, and more respect for the United States on the world stage, he said.

“And more importantly, now we’re going to do it again. And we’re going to do it even better,” the frontrunner for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination said.

Mr. Trump said he considers his supporters to be partners in a shared mission: “Side by side, we’re going to fight and we’re going to win.”

He was the main draw for the first day of the two-day Turning Point Action Conference, which promotes conservative politics. The goal is to provide knowledge and resources so attendees can “make an impact in their communities ahead of the 2024 election,” organizers say.

Mr. Trump told the audience:  “You are the ones who are going to take back America; you’re the ones who are going to Make America Great Again,” his famous campaign slogan.

Speech Clinched Voter’s Decision

After attending Mr. Trump’s speech, Jeffrey Antous of Tarpon Springs, Florida, said that hearing Mr. Trump express such resolve–and witnessing extraordinary enthusiasm from the crowd–convinced him that Mr. Trump is the right choice for president in the 2024 election.

Mr. Antous, who has been involved in politics since the 1970s, told The Epoch Times: “Because of his experience and his confidence, he’ll be able to walk back into the presidency and start repairing the damage that has been done over the past two and a half years.”

Since Democrat President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the nation’s energy prices, housing costs and inflation rates have climbed; illegal immigration and other problems have surged.

Mr. Trump and many of his supporters blame Mr. Biden’s policies, while Mr. Biden claims that his “Bidenomics” approach is improving conditions for minorities.

Epoch Times Photo
During the Georgia Senate runoff elections a worker carries a bin of ballots to be scanned at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga., on Jan. 5, 2021. (Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump, who has already been indicted on state business records charges in New York and federal classified records charges in Florida, could soon face accusations in Georgia, too.

There, his lawyers have asked a court to put the brakes on a prosecutor who has been probing Mr. Trump’s dispute of Mr. Biden’s 2020 election win. In addition, a protest of the 2020 election, which turned violent at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, could produce more federal charges against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump has vowed to continue his quest for the presidency regardless of those cases; he says he has gained support from people who agree with his contention that the prosecutions are politically motivated.

Prosecutors deny that allegation, and Mr. Biden denies suggesting whether federal charges should be brought against Mr. Trump, his chief political rival.

‘Learning Curve’ Cited

Mr. Trump’s nearest Republican challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, could be a great president because he’s “brilliant,” Mr. Antous said.

But now is not the time because Mr. DeSantis would need to learn the intricacies of Washington politics. “There’s no ‘learning curve’ for Donald Trump; he already knows what to do,” Mr. Antous said.

At the outset of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, Mr. Antous was not his fan. But Mr. Antous said he learned to respect Mr. Trump for his ability to analyze situations and “fix things–like this,” he said, snapping his fingers to signify speed.

Mr. Antous said he feels confident Mr. Trump can follow through on his pledge to end the war between Russia and Ukraine. Mr. Antous said he is concerned about Mr. Biden’s recent order to prepare 3,000 U.S. reserve troops to be ready to deploy to Europe.

American parents “should not have to worry that their child will be sent to die” there, Mr. Trump told the Turning Point audience, asserting that he would broker a peace deal that would be fair to both Ukraine and Russia.

Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden (L) delivers his speech as he is flanked by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during an event with G7 leaders to announce a Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine during the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 12, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Smash’ Bureaucracies

Mr. Trump’s speech spanned about an hour and 40 minutes, touching on a wide range of other topics, including policies that are of special interest to younger voters, a group that Turning Point has focused on attracting.

“We are going to smash the Marxist ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ bureaucracies that are driving up tuition costs and sticking you with crushing debt,” Mr. Trump told the audience.

If re-elected as president, Mr. Trump said would put more conditions on colleges seeking federal student loan money. They would need “to offer real job placement and career services, as well as options for accelerated and low-cost degrees,” Mr. Trump said.

His campaign posted further details at donaldjtrump.com just before his speech at the Turning Point event began.

“When I return to the White House, I will fire the radical Left accreditors that have allowed our colleges to become dominated by Marxist maniacs and lunatics,” his website says. “We will then accept applications for new accreditors who will impose real standards on colleges once again and once and for all.”

Mr. Trump also would direct the Department of Justice “to pursue federal civil rights cases against schools that continue to engage in racial discrimination … under the guise of ‘equity.’” Such colleges would also see fines and taxes levied against their endowment funds.

The crowd responded with vigorous applause to Mr. Trump’s education-related policies.

Free Speech Revival

Mr. Trump also pledged to “bring back free speech in America.” He noted that last week, a federal judge made a historic ruling, ordering the Biden administration to halt working with social media companies to censor users’ posts, although on Friday a three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued a decision granting the Biden administration’s request to put the censorship-by-proxy ban on hold.

Mr. Trump pledged to dismantle the federal government’s “censorship industrial complex,” and promised to immediately fire “any federal bureaucrat who had a hand in illegally silencing the American people.”

The audience hooted and hollered in response.

“This is just the start of what we will do for America’s young people,” Mr. Trump said.

This conference marks the first multi-day event for Turning Point Action, “the political arm” of the Turning Point USA organization, founder Charlie Kirk said during a speech.

Mr. Kirk also apologized for the long delays that attendees endured as they passed through security. He said Turning Point asked for 10 metal detectors to accommodate the crowd but “the federal government” only provided three of the devices.

Mr. Antous noted that many people went many hours with little or no food or water; that some attendees waited more than four hours to get inside the venue, he said.

Despite those hardships, there was no dampening of the enthusiasm for Mr. Trump, he said.

When organizers allowed attendees to enter the ballroom where Mr. Trump would later speak, people ran to snag the best seats. Several speeches were interrupted by chants of “Let us in!” from frustrated attendees at the back entrance to the room.

‘More Energized’ Than Expected

After the last speaker, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson spoke, and many people stood on chairs to await Mr. Trump’s arrival; some remained there for about a half-hour, chanting, “We want Trump!”

Mr. Trump, who had been scheduled to appear around 6:45 p.m., took the stage around 7:20 p.m.

Fireworks shot skyward from the stage as spotlights created additional drama for Mr. Trump’s entrance. His customary anthem, “Proud to be an American” by singer Lee Greenwood, blared from loudspeakers.

A frequent Turning Point attendee, Debra Tomarin, 56, of Palm Beach, told The Epoch Times this year’s event drew many voters in her age group in addition to the younger ones. She was pleasantly surprised to see that the crowd of all ages was “more energized than I thought it would be.”

She agreed with Mr. Trump’s contention that it would be smarter for Republicans to band together against “Crooked Joe Biden” in November 2024 rather than wasting time and effort fighting each other for the primary election.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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