CPAC Prepares for Florida Meeting Amid COVID-19, As Conservatives Ready for Trump Bonanza


For many, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is essentially one of the last major face-to-face events without masks or restraints from the coronavirus pandemic before the shutdown began.

Now, a year later, both the world and CPAC 2021 are very different.

The annual conservative conspiracy has moved from Maryland to Orlando, Florida, due to coronavirus restrictions.

“It was a very intentional decision to go to Florida,” American Conservative Union President Matt Schlapp told Fox News.

Matt Schlapp, President of the Conservative Union of America, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA, February 28, 2019. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque – RC1556BA8460
(REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque)

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“We look at other states, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Texas … Florida seems like the most obvious place,” he said. “You know, the city of Orlando obviously has the infrastructure to hold a big conference. I mean, Las Vegas would have it too, but … the governor there is just making it impossible, basically making it impossible for any business to be opened, while the governor of Florida is doing the opposite. “

Masks are required in all CPAC public spaces, due to regulations in Orange County, Florida, and the Hyatt hotel where the conference is taking place. Some of the peripheral activities around CPAC, such as book signing, have been scaled down to limit face-to-face contact.

But other things are the same.

CPAC still carries a roster of high-profile Republican speakers, including top lawmakers like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be there. So will high-profile state officials like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. Schlapp still expects a packed room for the conference’s keynote speeches and a host of politically engaged high school and college students.

And what remains the same more than anything else is that former President Donald Trump will be at the center of the conference more than anyone else.

President Donald Trump hugs the American flag as he arrives to speak at the 2019 CPAC Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland on March 2, 2019 (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster).

President Donald Trump embraces the American flag as he arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2019, in Oxon Hill, Maryland on March 2, 2019 (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster).

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“I think everyone who is seriously considering running, and obviously Donald Trump is the great [one], is what hangs most over all those decisions, “said Schlapp.” And look, you’re not going to make the Republican nomination a never-trumper. You will not get the Republican nomination if you are not a strong conservative. So all that kind of courtship, it’s appropriate that it starts at CPAC. “

It was confirmed over the weekend that Trump will close CPAC as the headliner on Sunday afternoon, the last day of the conference. And his son, Donald Trump Jr., will headline CPAC’s first full day on Friday.

Notably absent from CPAC are Republicans who have openly criticized Trump. Senators Mitt Romney, R-Utah and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Will not be in attendance. Neither will Representative Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, who was the highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives to vote to impeach Trump earlier this year.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, who after Cheney’s impeachment vote flew to Wyoming just to hold a political rally against Cheney, will attend the conference.

“We are in a battle for the soul of the Republican Party and I intend to win it,” Gaetz said at the Wyoming rally. “You can help me. You can help me break a corrupt system. You can send a representative to really represent you and you can send Liz Cheney home, back to Washington, DC”

At that rally, Gaetz received a call from Trump Jr., who also lobbied for Cheney’s impeachment in the 2022 primaries.

Donald Trump Jr. gestures while speaking during a press conference at the Republican Party of Georgia headquarters Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Atlanta.  Trump Jr. will speak Friday afternoon at CPAC.  (AP Photo / John Bazemore)

Donald Trump Jr. gestures while speaking during a press conference at the Republican Party of Georgia headquarters Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Atlanta. Trump Jr. will speak Friday afternoon at CPAC. (AP Photo / John Bazemore)

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Some of the other high-profile Trump loyalists who will be in attendance at CPAC include Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, who led the push earlier this year to overturn Electoral College results in some states; Paxton, who led a lawsuit to overturn election results from four states; Representatives Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Two of Trump’s strongest allies in the House; and former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.

Perhaps also hinting at the pro-Trump nature of the conference, CPAC 2021 includes seven separate panels on “protecting the elections,” which alternately examine similar claims of widespread voter fraud made by Trump after the presidential election or how to strengthen elections for the future. .

“We’re going to look at the real stuff. Not the imagined loads, not the fantastic loads. Just the real things,” Schlapp said. “All globalists tell us that we should agree with the world. Well, the world tells us this is the wrong way to vote. You vote in person. That’s what you do in these other democracies. You vote once and there is a lot of it. security around you. So much security that the American government often helps pay for that security. “

Conservatives and many election experts prior to the presidential election agreed that some changes pointing to an increase in voting by mail in the United States made elections less secure. But despite intense scrutiny and a litany of court cases, no evidence has emerged to support the idea that there was widespread electoral fraud almost large enough to affect the outcome of the presidential elections.

President Joe Biden speaks about the economy in the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, February 5, 2021, in Washington.  (AP Photo / Alex Brandon)

President Joe Biden speaks about the economy in the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, February 5, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon)
(AP)

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CPAC will also be a forum for those on the right to sharpen their arguments against President Biden, whose administration began with a series of executive orders that have angered Republicans. Schlapp specifically criticized Biden’s order that revoked approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, resulting in the loss of a significant number of jobs.

“A lot of unbiased people say, ‘Well, let’s see if we get the AOC Joe Biden and the Bernie Sanders Joe Biden, or do we get the Joe Manchin Joe Biden?'” Schlapp said of the early days of the Biden Administration. “I think a lot of people believe that the Joe Biden that emerges will be whatever is given on the cue cards, right? It’s like he’s being driven by the people around him.”

“I think now people are starting to see these executive orders that they are going to get,” Schlapp said. “In a way, he has my grudging respect. He does all of these things that he says he would do. That means we’re going to have a very aggressive socialist agenda. That will mean Republicans will better find their voice quickly and they better start fighting fast.” .

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