The lineup at CPAC 2021 – switched to Florida from Maryland because of coronavirus safety constraints – suggest that Donald Trump’s dominance of the Republican Party is entirely undiminished by his loss of the White House and Republican setbacks in Congress.
Speakers include his allies such as Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state; Ben Carson, the ex-housing secretary; Sarah Sanders, a former White House press secretary; Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota; Pete Hegseth, a Fox News host; Jon Voight, an ardently pro-Trump actor; and Donald Trump Jr, the 45th president’s son.
There are also slots for Senate Republicans including Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Cynthia Lummis and Rick Scott, and House Republicans such as Kevin McCarthy, Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan, all of whom voted to challenge Joe Biden’s victory. The “big lie” of a stolen election is expected to thrive at CPAC.
That is not least because the conference will culminate on Sunday with Trump himself. In his first post-presidential speech, he is expected to promise to back Maga candidates in next year’s midterm elections, condemn Biden’s reversal of his immigration policies and reserve particular venom for his foes within the Republican party.
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, told the Reuters news agency: “Donald Trump is going to stay in the game and will be involved in primaries and he’s going to opine and he’s going to give speeches, and for establishment Republicans it puts shivers down their spine. They’re very concerned he’s going to continue to have an impact. My advice to them is to get used to it.”
Among the talking points will be a straw poll of attendees on their preferences for the Republican nomination in 2024. Given the section of the party that now rules CPAC, there is little doubt that Trump will emerge the winner.
Tim Miller, former political director of Republican Voters Against Trump, said: “He’s gonna speak right after the 2024 straw poll, which presumably will show him with a landslide victory, and so I think it’s set up for him speak in a way that will signal that he sees himself as the leader of the party, as the frontrunner for 2024. He will attack those who have questioned him in that regard.
“I’m sure he’ll be received overwhelmingly positively by the crowd in those appeals. The Republicans are doing this to themselves. They had an opportunity to put a stake in his heart, they didn’t take it and he’s in charge of the party right now.”
Read more of David Smith’s report here: ‘The base is solidly behind him’: Trumpism expected to thrive at CPAC