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Trump Takes a Victory Lap With Conservative Activists at CPAC

President Donald Trump talked Sweden, soup, and Bernie Sanders as he reminded CPAC activists of how they captured the White House.
Image: Trump addresses CPAC  in Oxon Hill in Maryland
With his image projected upon a huge screen, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, U.S., February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueKEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters

President Donald Trump talked Sweden, soup, and Bernie Sanders during his Friday address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, laying out his conservative vision while veering abruptly at times into unscripted roasts of the media and remembrances of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Praising the strength of the movement that helped propel him into office, Trump marveled at its longevity. "There’s been some movements that petered out, like Bernie – petered out, but it was a little rigged against him, you know – super delegate – super delegate." The riff was an echo of campaign rallies past, where Trump repeatedly used Sen. Bernie Sanders as a bolster to his argument that the system was rigged against political outsiders.

"Not that I'm a fan of Bernie," he clarified, "but a lot of Bernie people voted for Trump." Eventually Trump allowed that Sanders was "right on one issue — trade" and that he actually likes the Vermont senator.

The victory lap fired up the already excited room at the Gaylord National Resort where chants of "lock her up" and "fake news" still burst out spontaneously from the crowd.

Trump further electrified the CPAC crowd with a lengthy and forceful rebuke of the "fake news" media before waxing poetic on his "historic" win at the ballot box last November. Trump's win, while substantial, was not historic, with multiple past presidents earning more electoral votes than Trump's 306.

The media were among those left befuddled after Trump claimed during a campaign rally in Florida over the weekend that there had been some kind of terror attack in Sweden. "Sweden," he said. "Who would believe this?"

Trump doubled down on the claim Friday despite no evidence that any act of terror took place in the European nation. "I took a lot of heat on Sweden and then a day later, I said, 'Has anybody reported what’s going on?' And it turned out that they didn’t – not too many of them did. Take a look at what happened in Sweden."

The president continued: "I love Sweden – great country, great people, I love Sweden – but they understand that I’m right, the people understand I’m right. Take a look at what’s happening in Sweden, take a look at what’s happening in Germany, take a look at what’s happened in France, take a look at Nice and Paris." It was unclear what people Trump was referring to.

Immediately after Trump's initial comments, Sweden's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Catarina Axelsson, told the Associated Press that the Swedish government did not know of any "terror-linked major incidents" and a White House spokeswoman told reporters that Trump was "not referring to a specific incident."

"He was talking about rising crime and recent incidents in general," White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in Florida over the weekend.

Trump also took the time to make his soup preferences known to the CPAC crowd. The president said that he met with several business leaders at the White House yesterday, and would see them again today for the signing of a regulatory executive order. Among those leaders, Campbell CEO Denise Morrison. "I like Campbell's soup," Trump said with a smile.

Between the attention grabbing asides, the president promised the second iteration of his hallmark travel ban "in a matter of days." He blamed Obama for the "mess" he inherited and promised "to make it much better" when it comes to healthcare.

As if he were still campaigning against his Democratic rivals, Trump reminded the crowd: "Remember the lie? Twenty-eight times, you can keep your doctor. You could keep your plan. Over and over and over and over again you heard it. So we’re repeal and replace Obamacare."

Despite skipping the gathering last year, Trump promised to return next year.

"I wouldn't miss a chance to talk to my friends," he said.