-- In remarks to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, President Trump this morning delivered a freewheeling speech hitting topics from last week's Florida school shooting to immigration and his defeated 2016 opponent, but mostly glossed over an expected announcement of new sanctions on North Korea the White House had previewed hours earlier.
Addressing last week's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Trump again ratcheted up his call for arming teachers and coaches who would be trained to use firearms.
"So this crazy man who walked in wouldn't even know who has it," Trump said, referring to concealed weapons in the possession of coaches or teachers. "That's good. That's not bad, that's good. And the teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened."
Trump almost skipped over entirely in his roughly one-hour and 20-minute speech what his administration had billed as the "largest-ever" round of new sanctions targeting Kim Jong Un's regime in North Korea, according to excerpts released to the media before Trump took the stage.
"The Treasury Department will soon be taking new action to further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that the regime uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military by targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses that are assisting North Korea in evading sanctions," Trump was intended to say, according to the released remarks.
He did say, however, “I do want to say it, because people have asked, North Korea, we imposed today the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before. Frankly, hopefully, something positive can happen. We will see. Hopefully, something positive can happen.”
But Trump's speech was largely consumed by the time spent veering from topic to topic, evoking some of the improvisation that defined his speeches in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Despite vocal opposition from many teachers and students, Trump vented about the thought of opposition to his plan allowing more trained teachers access to firearms.
"We owe it to our country," Trump said. "I've been watching for a long time, lots of words and very little action. You know, when you think about it, most of it is just common sense. It is not, 'Do you love guns? Do you hate guns?' It's common sense. It's all common sense."
Trump additionally suggested his call for ending “gun-free zones” in schools may also extend soon to U.S. military bases.
"We are going to look at that whole military base gun-free zone," Trump said. "If we can't have our military holding guns, it's pretty bad."
At one point, Trump polled the crowd on what they'd prefer he focus on more; tax cuts or the Second Amendment.
"If you only had a choice of one, what would you rather have?" Trump asked. "The Second Amendment or tax cuts? Second Amendment, tax cuts? Second Amendment? I'm going to leave it at the Second Amendment. I don't want to get into that battle.”
Trump also stirred up the crowd with a veiled reference to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has been largely absent from the Senate over the past months as he undergoes cancer treatment, for his vote last year that killed GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
"Remember, one person walked into a room, when he was supposed to go this way, and he said he was going this way, and he walked in and he went this way and everyone said, ‘What happened?’" Trump said. "What was that all about? Boy, oh, boy, who was that? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I don't want to be controversial, so I won't use his name."
Trump even entertained calls as the crowd erupted in “lock her up” chants directed at his defeated 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton.
"I will say this, folks, everything that is turning out now, it is amazing, that's come full circle," Trump said in response to the chants. "Boy, have they committed a lot of atrocities when you look. When you look. Have they done things that are wrong."
At the beginning of his remarks, Trump quipped at his own appearance on the TV screens in the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in National Harbor, Maryland, posing for the cameras and joking about his infamous hairdo.
"Oh, I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks," Trump joked. "I work hard at it. Doesn't look bad. Hey, we're hanging in. We're hanging in. We're hanging in there, right?"