Full CPAC 2021 Information: Trump, Cruz, Pompeo and Extra
Starting Friday, a mix of conservative politicians, commentators and activists will be arriving in Orlando, Florida for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, commonly known as the CPAC. Over the past few years, the event has been a reliable barometer for the Republican Party grassroots, clarifying how its most devout members define the institution now and what it should look like in the future.
For the party leadership, these questions have become particularly urgent after the loss of former President Donald J. Trump’s election in November, not to mention the riots in the Capitol that Trump supporters waged last month. The party has hardened over the past four years into a party enlivened by anger, complaint and, most importantly, loyalty to Mr. Trump. The coming days will tell whether this is likely to stay that way.
What influence does Trump have on the event?
The former president is expected to deliver the conference closing address on Sunday at 3:40 p.m. Eastern. However, his presence will be felt throughout the event. Recent polls show that a majority of Republicans mistakenly believe the election was stolen from Mr. Trump, and this year’s agenda shows that issues such as election fraud will be at the fore.
On Friday morning, panelists including Alabama’s Mo Brooks, who enthusiastically supported Mr Trump’s fraud allegations, will gather on stage for a 35-minute section entitled “Election Protection: Why Judges and Media Refuse to Examine the Evidence”. That topic will be taken up again on Sunday morning when speakers discuss what they call the “failed states” of Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada – states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November and where Trump’s legal effort struck USA to overthrow results sputtered.
The 45th President won’t be the only Trump to show up. On Friday afternoon, Donald Trump Jr. will speak under the vague banner of “Reigniting the Spirit of the American Dream”. He is introduced by Kimberly Guilfoyle, his girlfriend and a former Fox News personality.
In other words, when it comes to the older Mr. Trump, expect this year’s CPAC to feel similar to the last four – from the number of times his name is called to the eagerness of the audience, of the man hear for yourself.
Which topics are on the agenda?
As Conservatives look for a message to rally before the 2022 midterm elections, the CPAC agenda is previewing the tough fight that awaits. The agenda includes panels on debt, abortion, education, big tech, and breaking culture. With so many segments anchored in the 2020 elections, the conference seems to be less about mapping the party’s future than about reinvigorating its past.
Except for a certain day. There is no mention of January 6 anywhere on the agenda – not the pro-Trump march in Washington, the chants of “Stop the Steal,” or the demonstration that turned into a riotous mob that stormed the Capitol. Prominent Republican politicians have tried to limit the uprising to Antifa and other left movements or groups, and CPAC will show how conservative voters view events that day almost two months later.
Who is looking at 2024?
A lecture space at CPAC is prime property for ambitious Republicans. This year, some of those looking to claim the cloak of a post-Trump GOP managed to get one. With the event taking place in his state, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has perhaps the most coveted spot on the agenda alongside Mr. Trump himself – he will deliver the conference opening address on Friday at 9 a.m.
Other rumored candidates for 2024 are Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, who will speak on Friday at 10:50 am on the “Bill of Rights, Liberty and Cancel Culture”. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who will speak about “Keeping America Safe” at 12:55 pm that day; and Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who stands up at 2:55 pm for a discussion on “Unlocking Our Churches, Our Votes, and Our Social Media Accounts.”
Mr. Scott is immediately followed by Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, whose speech is simply titled “Remarks.”
Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem will anchor the line-up on Saturday. He will speak on the Bill of Rights at 1:35 p.m. and she will speak to the audience at 3:50 p.m. No topic is listed for her speech.
Over them, of course, is Mr. Trump. If the former president’s popularity continues with the grassroots, the 2024 election could center on whether or not he opts for running. If so, few Republicans are likely to ask him for the nomination. If he doesn’t, the contestants will put as much energy into his merits as they put into their Iowa floor game.
And so by 2024, hopefuls at CPAC will likely deliver their speeches in a familiar mode: in front of an audience of one.
Who will not be there?
The Republican Party, which aims to retake the White House in 2024 and won’t speak at CPAC that year, is as telling as whoever.
The most notable absence on the line-up is former Vice President Mike Pence. He has held back since January 6, when some rioters demanded his execution and Mr Trump refused to take action to stop the mob. Politico first reported that Mr Pence had declined an invitation to speak at CPAC.
Also off the agenda is Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor who served as Ambassador to the United Nations under Mr. Trump. Ms. Haley is another rumored candidate for 2024, and her absence from the Conservative conference could signal an attempt to take a more moderate stance in the party in the years to come.