ORLANDO, Fla. – Former President Donald J. Trump planned to use his first public appearance since leaving office to lash out at President Biden and insist there are no divisions within the Republican Party, even as he plans to exact revenge on lawmakers who have broken with he.
In a speech prepared for his Sunday afternoon address at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump planned to reclaim the leadership of the Republican Party and isolate his critics in Congress.
“The Republican Party is united,” Trump was expected to say, according to excerpts shared by his post-presidential advisers. “The only division is between a handful of political pirates from the Washington DC establishment and everyone else across the country.”
While much of the party’s ranks remain dedicated to the 74-year-old former president, some Republicans view him less favorably because of his refusal to accept defeat and his role in inciting riots on the Jan.6 Capitol.
A handful of Republican lawmakers have been among the strongest voices urging the party to leave Trump, most notably Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third Republican in the House of Representatives.
In response, Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., repeatedly attacked Cheney in his comments Friday, and the former president was expected to target her himself on Sunday.
Yet many of his advisers urged him to use his time onstage in Orlando to deliver a forward-looking speech.
To this end, they also published an excerpt in which Trump will confront his successor in a manner almost identical to what he said about Biden when he was president himself.
“Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” Trump is expected to say, according to prepared remarks. Ignoring that schools remained closed during his own presidency, Trump also planned to ask Biden to open schools “right now. No more special interest delays! “
It will also call Biden’s more liberal immigration policies “immoral” and “a betrayal of our nation’s core values,” according to the excerpts.
However, it is always an open question how closely Trump chooses to follow a teleprompter script. And perhaps never more so now that he has left the White House for his resort in Palm Beach, stripped of his social media accounts.
His speech was produced by two of the former president’s White House speechwriters, Ross Worthington and Vince Haley, with input from other advisers.
The former president’s aides had been looking for an opportunity for him to resurface and debated whether to host a rally-type event of their own or take advantage of the CPAC forum, which has moved to Trump’s new home state from suburban Washington because Florida has coronavirus restrictions. more forgiving.
Trump and his assistants have worked with him on the speech for several days in his newly built office above the ballroom at Mar-a-Lago, his private club near the Atlantic Ocean. Without his Twitter account, Trump has been using specific moments in the news cycle – the death of talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the Tiger Woods car accident – to inject himself into the news cycle.
Yet outside of prepared remarks, he has said far less since Jan.20 about the future of the Republican Party and his own persistent ambitions.
Trump’s advisers said he does not plan to discuss a litany of his own accomplishments and will instead try to recapture some of how he sounded as a candidate in 2016. Trump has made it clear to his allies and advisers that, for now, in at least , he wants to run for president again in 2024, something he is expected to joke about in the speech.
Yet even with a built-in supportive audience, not everyone in the party believes Trumpism is the way to go.
“CPAC is not the entire Republican Party,” Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump on the House impeachment charges, said Sunday.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Cassidy said Republicans should pay attention to voters who have changed in the past four years. “If we talk to the less confident voters, who went from President Trump to President Biden, we win. If we don’t, we lose, ”Cassidy said.
Jonathan Martin reported from Orlando, Florida, and Maggie Haberman from New York.