By Todd Beamon
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump ditched the teleprompter at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday and received huge ovations as he slammed President Barack Obama's leadership both at home and abroad.
"We have so many problems — and we have so little leadership," Trump said at the session in suburban Washington. "It's all about the leadership."
He cited China's move this week to devalue its currency against the American dollar, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine as examples of the United States' decline as a world power.
"The reason why they're doing it is because our leadership is so weak and so pathetic that they can get away with it," Trump said regarding China's currency devaluation. "Believe me, they're taking our jobs — and they're taking them, big league.
"You look at other countries. They're doing the same thing.
"They have no respect for our leader and, frankly, they have no respect any longer for our great country," he added. "It's so simple to solve: What we need is a strong economy. What we need is jobs."
Trump said that Putin is "toying" with Obama in Ukraine.
"He has the Olympics. The day after the Olympics, he starts with the Ukraine. When he goes into Crimea, he's taking the heart and soul, because that's where all the money is. That's the area with the wealth.
"So that means the rest of Ukraine will fall — and they’re predicting that it will fall very quickly," Trump concluded.
"It's like with this country: if we don't make it great, it's going to fall. It's really going to fall."
He also mentioned the size of the national debt. "Our country is in serious, serious trouble. We owe $17 trillion on debt. How do you pay off $17 trillion? No-one ever heard the expression a number of years ago — the word 'trillion.' We have debt that's beyond belief. We have deficits that nobody can even comprehend."
Trump's speech was peppered with ecstatic applause from the crowded hall at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
He predicted that "conservative Republicans" will retake the Senate in this fall's congressional elections and that the GOP will beat out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the White House in 2016 — "and then you can end Obamacare, which is a total catastrophe."
He later added: "Obamacare has to be stopped. Has to be. Immigration: We're either a country or we're not. We either have borders or we don't.
"It's true. You have a border, you have a country — and if you don't have a border, what do you have? … Nothing."
Trump noted that immigrants, once becoming legal, solidly vote Democratic.
"As a conservative Republican, you will not get any of those votes, no matter what you do. … You're not going to get the votes. With immigration, you better be smart, you better be tough — and they're taking your jobs, and you'd better be careful."
He spoke against cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
"I want to make this country so strong, so rich and so powerful — we have so much energy and so much money under our feet that we don't have to take away people's Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
"You want to stop the fraud, you want to stop the abuse … but they don't want to do that," he added, referring to the Obama administration.
In addition, Trump said that Obama's latest poll numbers — 38 percent approval to 54 percent disapproval, according to a Fox News survey — were "inconceivable."
"We're getting into Jimmy Carter territory — and I never thought I'd see anything like that again," he added, referring to the Democrat, who was in the White House from 1977 to 1981.
Battered by double-digit inflation, an economic recession, and the Iran hostage crisis, Carter's approval rating fell to 31 percent in June 1980.
"I lived through that time, and it was not a good time. We're pretty close," Trump said. "By this time next month, we will have surpassed the late, great Jimmy Carter."
Carter, now 89, lives in Atlanta with his wife, Rosalynn.
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