Donald Trump hints at 2024 presidential run at Conservative Political Action Conference
Former President Donald Trump has used a speech at a conservative political conference to hint at running in the 2024 election.
Trump used his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he has been hailed as a returning hero, to blast his successor, President Joe Biden, and try to cement his status as the party’s undisputed leader despite his loss in November.
“Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage, where his old rally soundtrack had been playing. “I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we begun together ... is far from being over.”
Though Trump has flirted with the the idea of creating a third party, he pledged to remain part of what he called “our beloved party.”
“I’m going to continue to fight right by your side. We’re not starting new parties,” he said. “We have the Republican Party. It’s going to be strong and united like never before.”
Trump repeated his baseless claims the Democrats committed voter fraud during the 2020 US election.
He also teased running again in 2024, saying he "may decide to beat them for a third time".
The conference, held this year in Orlando instead of the Washington suburbs because of COVID-19 restrictions, has been a tribute to Trump and Trumpism, complete with a golden statue in his likeness. Speakers, including many potential 2024 hopefuls, have argued the party must embrace the former president and his followers, even after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. And they have repeated his unfounded claims that he lost the November election only because the election was “rigged” - claims that have been rejected by judges, Republican state officials and Trump’s own administration.
The conference’s annual unscientific straw poll of just over 1,000 attendees found that 97% approve of the job Trump did as president. But they were much more ambiguous about whether he should run again, with 68% saying he should.
If the 2024 primary were held today and Trump were in the race, just 55% said they would vote for him, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 21%. Without Trump in the field, DeSantis garnered 43% support, followed by 8% for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and 7% each for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
It is highly unusual for past American presidents to publicly criticize their successors so soon after leaving office. Ex-presidents typically step out of the spotlight for at least a while; Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation after he departed, while George W. Bush said he believed Obama “deserves my silence” and took up painting.
He delivered a sharp rebuke of what he framed as the new administration’s first month of failures, including Biden’s approach to immigration and the border.
“Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” Trump said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki brushed off the expected criticism. “We’ll see what he says, but our focus is certainly not on what President Trump is saying at CPAC,” she told reporters.
Aside from criticizing Biden, Trump used the speech to claim himself as the future of the Republican Party, even as many leaders argued they must move in a new, less divisive direction after Republicans lost not only the White House but both chambers of Congress in the last elections.
Nonetheless, Trump insisted the party was united, even as he has sought to punish those who voted to impeach him for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, including the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
Indeed, on Friday, Trump began his vengeance campaign, endorsing Max Miller, a former aide who is seeking to oust Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment.
While he no longer has his social media megaphone after being barred from Twitter and Facebook, Trump has already been inching back into public life. He called into conservative news outlets after Rush Limbaugh’s death and to wish Tiger Woods well after the pro golfer was injured in a car crash. He has also issued statements, including one blasting Mitch McConnell after the Senate Republican leader excoriated Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. McConnell has since said he would “absolutely” support Trump if he were the GOP nominee in 2024.
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