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CPAC Is All In for Donald Trump This Weekend

Will the conference pick Trump's running mate?

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

Former President Donald Trump is on tap to energize the GOP at the world’s most influential gathering of conservatives: the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) annual meeting Feb. 21-24. Just prior to a record-breaking win in Iowa and an easy coast to victory in New Hampshire, 45 earned the endorsement of CPAC in a MAGA tsunami of affirmation. Trump is not just attending or acting as the big-ticket feature; he is the main event. Re-electing the man is the conference’s top priority.

“CPAC is not neutral on Donald Trump. We’re all in,” declared Matt Schlapp, CPAC chair.

The speaker list reads like a top-40 global political pop chart: former Brexit leader Nigel Farage, Argentine President Javier Milei, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador, and Walk Away founder Brandon Straka. Sprinkle in notable American conservative politicians, former Trump primary adversaries, and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and you have a recipe for an emerging presidential running mate. Yes, there will be a straw poll on the very matter.

This will be Trump’s 14th appearance at the meeting. Besides shoulder-rubbing with Steve Bannon in his satellite War Room, America First’s Sebastian Gorka, and former HUD Secretary Ben Carson, there are a lot of sessions that explain how to push the conservative movement forward, starting at the local levels. Speakers will discuss economics, cancel culture, immigration, and foreign policy, to name a few. And tickets? Sold out: from $3,000 to as high as $30,000. Notably missing from the gathering, though, are former Ambassador Nikki Haley and the hold-out Never-Trumper tribe.

Trump — the Possibilities Are Endless

The buzz across platforms and the ever-watchful media wonder if the time is now for Trump to have the talk about his running mate. The conference, which concludes on Saturday evening, is implementing a straw poll that includes a question unqueried in at least a decade to activists, political operatives, and voters in attendance: “Who do you want to see as Trump’s number two?”

To hear Schlapp explain: “This is like our version of ‘The Apprentice.’ They’ll all get a chance to make remarks and give conservative activists a sense of what they’re about,” he quipped, referring to Trump’s reality show. “And I’m sure Mr. Trump will be very interested to see the results of the straw poll.”

Several names have been bandied about, from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to former Democrat Gabbard and former Fox News anchor in Arizona, Kari Lake. However, it is likely that the conservative machine will stay close to prospects such as Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who chased the brass ring only to drop out and endorse Trump. New York Rep. Elise Stefanik is rumored to be on the straw poll ballot.

With his MAGA agenda, the former president is already a lock in GOP circles. However, the second in command will be pivotal as Trump endures courtroom dramas and future legal issues. And this will be a four-year run if successful. This person must be ready and able to take the reins if need be and, more importantly, set the tone for Republicans in 2028.

Former candidate and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy ran his presidential campaign much like Trump: MAGA all the way. But conservatives have that covered. Will Trump and his camp dig deeper into the evangelical possibilities or swing to the center to attract Independents? Liberty Nation’s Mark Angelides suggested that he will be looking at long-term legacy building this time around:

“When Joe Biden was inaugurated, he lost no time in unwinding and rolling back much of the work that Donald Trump had done over his four years in office. This is certainly an angle of importance that Trump will be considering if he manages to take back the White House. Rather than try to get his agenda built up from 2025 onward and then hope that it sticks once the next president comes into power – Democrat or Republican – it makes sense for 45 to have a hand in who could continue his work.”

Trump himself has claimed he had someone selected but walked that statement back and has been saying instead he will pick someone “who is going to be a good president.”

CPAC appears 100% behind Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign; in terms of high-profile endorsements, this one is huge. From promoting his policies to lauding the man himself, the organization is a juggernaut with few equals in conservative circles. By gifting the attendees an opportunity to have their say on a potential running mate, Trump just keeps on locking down his support.

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