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CPAC: Pence slams socialism, urges bipartisanship to meet COVID-19 crisis

Vice President Mike Pence applauds as he speaks Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Vice President Mike Pence applauds as he speaks Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Vice President Mike Pence headlined the speaking agenda Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, D.C., and hailed President Donald Trump's efforts over the last three years on the issues of defense, immigration and abortion.

Pence took the dais just before noon at the Gaylord Resort and Conference Center in National Harbor, Md., about 7 miles south of Washington.

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While urging the conservatives in attendance to support Trump for another four years in office, Pence warned that Democrats have been taken over by the "radical left" and are following "failed policies of socialism."

"America will never be a socialist country," he said.

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"The truth is, in four short years, we've made America great again," Pence added while ticking off a list of moves that were cheered in conservative circles, including the appointments of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, increasing military spending and taking a tough stance on immigration.

Trump's vice president also defended the order to kill Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last month, an act that drew retaliation from Tehran.

Pence appealed for bipartisanship, however, to meet the expanding coronavirus crisis, which has now branched into more than 40 nations and killed thousands.

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"We're all in this together, it's not the time for partisanship," he said. "We'll work with both parties. This president will always put health and safety first."

Several notable conservatives attended and spoke at the conference Thursday, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Trump will close the conference with a speech Saturday. Earlier this week, he tweeted a photograph of his appearance last year when he embraced an American flag on the speakers' stage.

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"Looking forward to being with all of my friends and supporters," he wrote.

A number of Trump campaign officials spoke on the conference's opening day Wednesday, including spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, communications director Tim Murtaugh and adviser Mercedes Schlapp.

Trump's former campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page -- the subject of FBI surveillance in a case that encouraged Attorney General William Barr to weigh reforms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court -- also appeared Wednesday. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will speak Saturday.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Labor Department Secretary Eugene Scalia and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler also are slated to attend.

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