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Ukraine vs. US border at annual conservatives gathering

The annual 'CPAC' gathering of conservatives, at a convention center just outside Washigton, draws thousands of activists seeking to hear from right-wing leaders
The annual 'CPAC' gathering of conservatives, at a convention center just outside Washigton, draws thousands of activists seeking to hear from right-wing leaders - Copyright AFP Brendan Smialowski
The annual 'CPAC' gathering of conservatives, at a convention center just outside Washigton, draws thousands of activists seeking to hear from right-wing leaders - Copyright AFP Brendan Smialowski
Paul NOLP

With a red T-shirt covered in Donald Trump pins, there is no doubt as to which candidate Patti Douglas will be backing in November’s presidential election.

But unlike the former US leader, who Douglas came to see deliver a speech in the suburbs of Washington on Saturday, she has no reservations about giving Ukraine more assistance.

“I want to help Ukraine… I think they are doing a really good job, but they need more help,” she told AFP at the annual “CPAC” gathering of conservatives.

While Ukraine marked the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion on Saturday, a new $60 billion security package sits stalled in the US Congress, as Trump calls on Republican lawmakers to hold out until Democrats agree to measures cracking down on immigration, and to convert any aid to Kyiv into loans.

Douglas, a resident of Florida in her 50s, says she disagrees that the different policies should all be tied together.

“I think the Congress should do separate bills: one for Ukraine, one for our border and other things like that. If we do huge bills, it doesn’t work,” she said.

A security package without immigration measures has passed the Senate with bipartisan backing, but Republican leaders in the House have pledged to not take it up.

But friends Stephanie Jordan and Nannette Coil, whose cowboy hats stand out among a sea of red caps typical at Trump campaign rallies, said they believe the US border issue should be handled first before Ukraine gets any more aid.

“It’s like in an airplane, you put on your own oxygen mask first, before you help anyone else. We need to take care of ourselves first,” Coil told AFP.

Jordan, also in her 60s, says she thinks about “domestic issues first.”

“I know being nationalist is not popular, I don’t know why, because strength starts within the country,” she said.

– ‘Secure our border first’ –

Trump, in his nearly 1.5-hour speech, hammered President Joe Biden over the historically high number of illegal border crossings in recent months — an issue he has sought to make a key part of his campaign to retake the White House.

“They’re killing our people — they’re killing our country,” Trump said of the migrants, pledging to enact the “largest deportation in the history of our country,” if elected.

In only brief remarks on Ukraine, Trump reiterated his belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have invaded if he were in office.

“Ukraine would have never happened. I talked to Putin a lot. I got along with him well,” said Trump, highlighting the weapons that were delivered to Kyiv while he was president.

When asked about renewing US aid, 69-year-old Mary Phelps, clad in a “Make America Great Again” T-shirt, told AFP: “We already sent to Ukraine a lot of help. There’s not a clear path for them to get out of this mess.”

“I feel like we need to secure our border first and then we have to worry about helping other people,” she said.

“And I think that other NATO partners have to step it up a little more and we have to save more of our resources to save our borders.”

One attendee named Jean, who did not wish to give a last name, said she believes the situation would be different with migration and the war in Ukraine “if Trump were allowed to be president.”

When asked if the United States should continue supporting Ukraine, she said “right now it’s a very terrible condition and it’s very hard to answer that question.”

AFP
Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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