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Trump rallies conservative base at CPAC amid escalating coronavirus concerns

President Donald Trump rallied conservative activists Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference held near Washington after he held a briefing to announce additional efforts — including travel restrictions — to deal with the growing the coronavirus health crisis.

Trump offered the crowd a brief update on his administration’s efforts concerning the coronavirus not long after he announced that the US would be tacking on additional travel restrictions on Iran due to the outbreak earlier in the day.

At CPAC, Trump offered additional assistance to the country.

“If we can help the Iranians — we have the greatest health care professionals in the world and if we can help the Iranians with this problem we are certainly willing to do so,” Trump said, adding that “all they have to do is ask.”

The President also said Democrats are criticizing his administration’s response to the coronavirus for political reasons.

“We will do everything in our power to keep the virus and those carrying the infections from entering our country,” he added.

He predicted that former Vice President Joe Biden would win the South Carolina Democratic primary.

“He’s going to have a very big win today. I think. Based on the polls,” Trump said.

Trump’s appearance on Saturday marked his first time at the conference since his impeachment.

The President and his allies have continued to tout his Senate acquittal as a victory, despite his name in the history books as just the third US president to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Trump used the conference as an opportunity to take on his potential Democratic opponents, referencing “the impeachment hoax” and what he saw in Democrats’ “socialist” policies.

He once again went after Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney for his impeachment vote, saying Romney “wanted to get some publicity for himself” with the vote.

He used a large portion of the conference speech to tout his promises kept on topics such as immigration, the economy, the southern border, the US’ energy independence and national security.

At last year’s CPAC, Trump spoke for two hours, ripping into the Mueller probe and mocking his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions. At the time, it was the longest speech he had delivered in his presidency.

In February 2018, the same month as the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Trump told CPAC an armed teacher would have “shot the hell” out of the shooter.

The President has traditionally used past CPAC appearances to rile up his supporters, though the conservative crowd hasn’t always been aboard the Trump train.

In 2016, then-candidate Trump canceled his appearance at CPAC to attend campaign rallies. According to The Washington Post, his appearance was likely to encounter a protest or walkout by conservative activists who were, at the time, divided over Trump’s candidacy.

More recently, Trump has received a wild reception at the conference dominated by young people and the right-wing’s most fervent members.

UPDATE: This story has been updated after the speech.

CNN