Prominent congressional conservatives – together with Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley and Representatives Steve Scalise and Matt Gaetz – had been among the many Trump loyalists talking on the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, which the previous president will deal with on Sunday.
“Let me tell you something: Donald Trump ain’t going anywhere,” mentioned Cruz.
Trump’s tumultuous last weeks in workplace noticed his supporters launch a lethal assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an try to dam Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory, a win that Trump falsely claimed was tainted by widespread fraud.
If there was any doubt that CPAC this yr was dedicated to Trump, the gold-colored statue of the previous president, wearing a jacket, purple tie and Stars-and-Stripes boxing shorts, was on show on the convention website.
Two members wheeled the larger-than-life statue by the convention heart foyer, in accordance with a video on social media. It was unclear why the statue, exhibiting a cartoonish model of Trump with an oversize head, was there.
The statue drew immediate derision on-line, with commentators evaluating it to the golden calf that enraged the prophet Moses within the Old Testament.
“Idol worship isn’t conservative. #RestoreOurGop,” Representative Adam Kinzinger, considered one of 10 House Republicans who voted to question Trump on a cost of inciting the Jan. 6 assault, mentioned on Twitter.
Gaetz declared himself a part of the “pro-Trump, America First” wing of the conservative motion. “We’re not really a wing, we’re the whole body,” he mentioned.
He additionally appeared to forecast a future position for Trump, who’s pondering one other run for president in 2024: “Trump may not have drained the swamp all the way – yet.”
U.S. Senator Rick Scott, a Florida Republican who could run for the celebration’s presidential nomination in 2024, sought to string the needle between pledging loyalty to Trump and signaling his aspirations for larger workplace.
He mentioned “President Trump has flaws” however that he had made the celebration extra approachable for working-class Americans.
“We will not win the future by going back to where the Republican Party used to be,” Scott mentioned. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation.”
‘NOT THE PAST’
Hawley, one other potential 2024 candidate, referred to as himself a part of the way forward for the celebration.
“We’re not the past, we’re the future. We represent the future of this country,” he mentioned.
Trump is predicted to speak on Sunday about the way forward for the celebration and lay out coverage variations inside a bunch riven by variations within the wake of his chaotic 4 years in workplace.
“The divide right now is between the ‘Beltway elites’ and the conservative grassroots around the country,” mentioned a Trump adviser who helped put together the speech.
Trump can even provide red-meat rhetoric essential of his successor, Democrat President Joe Biden.
Trump supporters on the convention on Friday repeated a few of his false claims, arguing that they justified new restrictions on voting.
In addition to the ten House Republicans who voted to question Trump, seven Senate Republicans voted to convict him of inciting revolt, though the 57-43 vote fell in need of the two-thirds majority wanted to convict.
Many different senior Republicans didn’t attend this yr’s occasion. They included former Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Representative Liz Cheney – one other House Republican who voted to question.
Some advisers say they need Trump to not use his speech to relitigate the election at size however as a substitute provide a highway map to Republicans’ regaining management of the House of Representatives and the Senate within the 2022 congressional elections.
CPAC is an occasion organized by the American Conservative Union, whose chairman, Matt Schlapp, is near Trump. It is a primary venue for audio system who need to gauge curiosity in whether or not they need to run for president based mostly on the passion they generate.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell