Republicans are gathering in Orlando this week for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual event that allows grassroots activists, prominent commentators and lawmakers to rub shoulders as they discuss the present and future state of the Republican Party.
While the gabfest occurs every year, this week’s conference is the first to take place after the former President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. Calls Withdrawn Bruce Springsteen Positions A ‘Liberal Privilege’ Schiff Sees Challenges For The Intelligence Committee, Trump McConnell Shadow Community Says It Would Back Trump As Republican Candidate In 2024 MORE He left the White House, allowing potential 2024 presidential contenders to test his appeal on a base that remains alongside the former president.
CPACs in recent years have been love parties for Trump, who used the event to launch his political career in 2011 and made several appearances while in the White House. This year is not expected to be any different: Polls show Trump is still hugely popular with Republican voters, set to give a keynote address on Sunday, the last day of the conference.
The fellow speakers represent a who’s who of potential White House candidates, including Governors. Kristi noemKristi Lynn NoemHaley isolated after the aftermath of Trump South Dakota AG had glasses from a man killed in a car accident after the incident. Republican Party resists Biden’s relief plan MORE from South Dakota and Ron DeSantisRon DeSantis 12:30 PM Report from The Hill – Presented by Facebook – House Split Full Screen Haley Isolated After Trump Aftermath Trump resurfaces on the political scene at CPAC MORE from Florida; former secretary of state Mike pompeoMike Pompeo The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The AIDS Institute – Forward: One-Time Vax, Loosening of Restrictions, Tax Help Trump to Resurface on Political Scene at CPAC China Calls Human Rights Criticism ‘Unfounded’ MORE; and Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzJohn Boehner Tells Cruz to ‘Fuck You’ in Unscripted Audiobook: Huawei Report Supports Supply Chain Security Standards in the wake of SolarWinds Breach Memo: Biden Faces the first major setback as Tanden staggers MORE (Texas), Josh hawleyJoshua (Josh) David Hawley Open Antitrust is an innovation killer Haley isolated after the fallout from Trump Trump to resurface on the political scene at CPAC MORE (Mo.), Rick Scott (Fla.) And Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTrump to resurface on CPAC at CPAC Romney-Cotton, Cancun Taxi Driver and the Minimum Wage Debate On Money: Schumer Urges Democrats to Stand Together on Bill .9T | Collins Discards Republican Party Support for Biden’s Aid Plan | Powell fights inflationary fears MORE (Ark.).
Here are five things to watch for at this week’s CPAC meeting.
What will Trump say?
Trump’s speech on Sunday will mark his resurgence on the political scene and will be his first appearance in front of the Republican faithful since he left office. As President BidenJoe BidenBiden ‘disappointed’ with Senate MP’s decision, but ‘respects’ decision Taylor Swift welcomes passage of House Equality Act Donald Trump Jr. calls dropped Bruce Springsteen charges ‘liberal privilege’ MOREAt its opening in January, it only appeared on Fox News and other friendly outlets to praise conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh and golfer Tiger Woods, who was seriously injured in a recent car accident.
Sources have already predicted that Trump will go on the offensive against President Biden during his speech Sunday night, in addition to advancing his own candidacy for 2024. A person familiar with the speech told The Hill that Trump is ready to deliver. a fiery reprimand on the first five weeks of Biden’s presidency, including his handling of immigration policy and his stance toward China, among other things.
According to Fox News, Trump is expected to walk “to the line of announcing another campaign,” without making it official.
But Trump has also been known to deviate from his prepared remarks when speaking in front of supportive crowds, and a friendly audience could provide him with a platform to fulfill his promise to go after Republicans he deems insufficiently loyal.
“I should come out and make an argument that rallies Republicans as to why it is important to fight the Biden agenda and make a full defense of the gains that Biden is trying to undo,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant.
“I think that would help Republicans focus on the tasks at hand rather than re-fighting the fights of the past four years and turning the page in an incredibly ugly chapter in both Republican and American history. That’s what I hope it does, ”Conant said.
But Conant added that Trump tends to persecute members of his own party.
“Based on the last five years, we should expect Trump to use CPAC to settle some scores and try to shape the future of the party in his own image,” he said.
How much will Trump win in the general election?
Every year, CPAC conducts an informal survey of its attendees. The poll is often taken as a sign of where the Conservative rank and file is and could indicate how close the rank and file want to embrace Trump.
While it is not yet clear who will appear in the poll, Trump is expected to win it and, if he is close to other polls, by a wide margin.
A Gallup poll conducted in January primarily after the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill found that Trump had an 88 percent approval rating among Republicans.
“If he doesn’t win it more than 90 percent, that shows a real crack at his base,” Conant said.
Who else could emerge as a star?
CPAC has long been a launching pad for legislator careers, including presidential races, given the exposure it brings to Republican grassroots.
The conference’s tradition of pushing for presidential nominations dates back to former President Ronald Reagan, who, as governor of California, made an appearance at the conference in 1974, six years before he became president.
Trump began making appearances at the meeting in 2011, using his speeches to hone his conservative bona fides.
However, it is unclear whether any potential 2024 candidate can have as much grassroots influence as Trump.
“Trump will block the possibility of anyone else really getting attention. It will focus on the other people looking to run and what they are going to say, but we basically know what they are going to say. They’re going to say Trump is awesome and they were there every step of the way for Trump, “said Doug Heye, Republican strategist and former Republican National Committee spokesman.
“Yeah, some attention will be paid to what Mike Pompeo or Ted Cruz say in a speech since they’re watching running or, you know, Kristi Noem, or whatever. But this will be a Trump-dominated event. “
Will CPAC prevent unwanted headlines?
While always a popular event with conservatives, CPAC has had to deal with negative headlines in recent years, including this year’s affair.
Actor Sacha Baron Cohen was revealed to sneak into CPAC last year dressed as Trump as part of his latest movie “Borat,” and a conservative blogger was kicked out of the 2019 event.
CPAC has already withdrawn the invitation to a speaker at this year’s conference after previous anti-Semitic comments resurfaced. Comments made by Young Pharoah, an online commentator who was initially scheduled to participate in a guest panel at the conference Sunday afternoon, include those who call Jews “thieves” and “false” and blame them for “pedophilia”.
“We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have nothing to do with our conference or our organization,” CPAC tweeted Monday. “The individual will not participate in our conference.”
It’s unclear whether CPAC will be able to avoid more negative headlines, although Conant said CPAC could still benefit even if there were.
“I think all the press is good press for something like CPAC. It thrives on media attention and being a news-generating venue, “he said, adding that the event will be” easier to control “in Orlando rather than its usual suburban Maryland setting in Washington, DC.
Will there be signs of division?
The divisions were briefly opened earlier this week when Rep. Liz cheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney Conservatives Pursue Cheney for Trump CPAC Comments The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The AIDS Institute – Forward: One-shot Vax, Restriction Relief, Fiscal Aid Senate Republican Party Works to Avoid have a war of the 22nd with Trump MORE (R-Wyoming) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthy Schiff Sees Challenges for Intelligence Committee, Shadow Community of Trump Cruz Hires a Trump Campaign Press Aide as Chief Communications Officer Tories Go After Cheney Over Trump CPAC Comments MORE (R-Calif.) He disagreed on whether Trump should speak at CPAC.
However, Cheney and other prominent Republican Trump critics will not be at the event, and the speakers who will do so are expected to remain in tune with the former president, especially those with their eyes on 2024.
“They may try to find ways to distinguish themselves from other people seeking to run, but they are not going to say anything critical of Trump. They’re all running not just to be the nominee in four or three years or whatever, but they’re running basically to take up his mantle, “Heye said. “And so, they will be generous in their praise for him.”