Donald Trump will be making his first major speech since leaving the White House at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Per USA Today, Trump’s last-minute decision to speak on Feb. 28, 2021, will attract considerable attention away from any presidential hopefuls trying to make a splash. Former congressman and Trump critic Joe Walsh stated that the former president’s CPAC appearance would be “his first real attempt to flex that muscle again. He’s the GOP boss, everyone must kiss his ring. That’s what he’ll reaffirm.” The former POTUS “obviously misses public adoration,” Walsh declared, adding, “He’ll feed off of that, and he’ll make clear in his speech that the Republican Party is his.” Walsh also predicted that prospective 2024 candidates would “have to pledge fealty and loyalty and love” for Trump in order to be his “heir.”
Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and consultant, agreed that CPAC would reflect the tensions of his party, which Ayres described as “seriously split between the governing faction and the populist faction.” While CPAC “will be a celebration of the populist faction,” in his words, some Republicans opposed Trump speaking at the conference at all. Elizabeth Cheney, for example, told reporters that she didn’t think Trump “should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country,” as USA Today separately reported.
A gold statue of Trump has been unveiled at CPAC 2021
As The Independent reported, the conference has already drawn attention on Twitter thanks to a golden statue of Donald Trump. A video showed the flashy tribute being wheeled into CPAC, depicting the former president wearing American flag shorts and holding a wand.
CPAC was established in 1974, according to USA Today, and has helped launch many politicians onto a national stage. Trump himself first sparked rumors of a political career with his 2011 speech, which was a prelude to his 2016 campaign’s speaking points: the reality show star criticized then-president Barack Obama, claimed that America was “the laughing stock of the world,” and warned about the threat posed by China.
Its four-day program in 2021 will feature panels covering “Protecting Elections,” law enforcement, civil rights, religious freedom, gun control, abortion, energy policy, economic opportunity, and peace in the Middle East. Usually held in Washington D.C., the conference has been relocated to Florida this year, due to the state having fewer restrictions on large gatherings. In 2020, CPAC weathered a COVID-19 outbreak scare in the early days of the virus, as The Washington Post investigated.
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