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Trump’s hold on GOP activist class on display at Texas conclave

Unlike CPAC’s Orlando event in February — and the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Nashville conference in June — the weekend rally lacked most of the non-Trump names put forward as potential candidates for 2024, though Meaning. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) were among the elected officials who spoke.

And though Trump’s dominance in the GOP has never been more threatened by a growing crop of ambitious Republicans, the event highlighted his continued appeal to party activists. A 2024 CPAC Texas attendee preference poll survey showed Trump leading with 69% support, 10 percentage points higher than at the February meeting in Florida. DeSantis came in second place with 23%.

Trump’s approval rating among attendees was 99%. Survey methodology, including survey size and margin of error, was not provided.

“I said the last two CPACs, I don’t think it can go any higher,” said Jim McLaughlin, a Trump campaign pollster who conducts CPAC’s mock polls.

McLaughlin argued that the rally’s response proved Trump’s influence was not diminishing.

“In fact, what’s happening is he’s more popular than ever,” McLaughlin said.

Yet while straw polls at other conservative activist rallies also showed Trump would start a 2024 primary campaign with a strong lead, a recent poll of the broader GOP electorate told a slightly different story. .

A Siena College/New York Times poll taken last month showed the former president had the support of just under half of Republican primary voters in a clash with several other candidates. Trump led with 49% of the vote, followed by DeSantis with 25%.

In a separate poll question removing Trump as an option for 2024, 59% of CPAC Texas attendees backed DeSantis for president, followed by 8% for Donald Trump Jr.

Not only were other potential 2024 rivals absent from the conference, but throughout the three-day meeting there was little talk about them. Speakers instead focused on Trump, largely not mentioning DeSantis or others as key party leaders.

The loudest voices spreading baseless allegations of voter fraud in 2020 — allegations that have been repeatedly refuted in audits, official investigations and litigation — have been hesitant to discuss Pence, even for the criticize.

Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign and White House strategist who was found guilty this week of contempt of Congress, presented at the conference a vision for the GOP’s coming years. That included more candidates like Kari Lake, who won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Arizona this week after basing her campaign on debunked allegations of voter fraud. And, of course, that included Trump with a second term.

Bannon, who was recently convicted of two counts of refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, riled the crowd by suggesting that outside forces were trying to imprison Trump in an effort to prevent him from seeking the White House again.

“They understand they can’t beat him at the polls,” Bannon said. “They can’t beat his energy. They can’t beat his vision. They’re coming out with a death by a thousand cuts legally, right, and trying to put him in jail to make sure he can’t run again in 2024 and be the legitimate president he should be in this moment.

President Joe Biden won the 2020 election by flipping five states that Trump carried in 2016 and edging him nationally by 7 million votes.

In a statement to POLITICO after the straw poll, American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp spoke about Trump’s enduring importance to conservatives.

“There is an unbreakable bond between President Trump and the conservative movement,” Schlapp said. “He just did what he promised to do and for that they will be forever grateful to him.”

On stage Saturday, British commentator and former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told the crowd that Trump looked set for another run.

Farage, who recently visited Trump, told the CPAC audience that the former president appears to have lost 20 pounds since leaving office.

“The weight of the world is rolling off his shoulders,” Farage said. “His nominees are winning the primaries, and I believe Donald Trump is the man to go out there and fight on behalf of America and the western world.”

Scott, the Florida senator whose 12-point “Plan for America” and corresponding ad campaign has been interpreted as a sign that he is laying the groundwork for a presidential election, received the most resounding applause from his speech when he called for the construction of a border wall. named after “President Donald J. Trump”.


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