by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Donald Trump may not be president, but he’s still headlining CPAC.
The former president will once again be the marquee event at the Conservative Political Action Conference beginning Thursday in Orlando, Fla. Trump’s Sunday speech will be his first post-presidential appearance, and he is expected to come out swinging.
“I may not have Twitter or the Oval Office, but I’m still in charge,” was the message described to Mike Allen of Axios this week. “Much like 2016, we’re taking on Washington again.”
Fox News reported Wednesday that while Trump will train plenty of fire on President Joe Biden, he will also oscillate between “warming up to the idea of a 2024 run, and walking right up to the line of announcing another campaign,” but is not expected to openly declare.
Trump will not be the only prospective 2024 Republican contender in attendance. Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley will all be speaking. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo are also in the lineup, as is the Florida trio of Governor Ron DeSantis and Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.
Two notable nonattendees are former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley — reportedly rebuffed by Trump after a revealing Politico profile — as well as former vice president Mike Pence, who “spoke very favorably about his relationship with President Trump” during a meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday, according to Republican Study Committee chair and CPAC attendee Jim Banks. …
… Cheney and other Republican critics of Trump, including Senator Mitt Romney, will not be attending CPAC.
Dallas Woodhouse of Carolina Journal, a longtime observer and participant in N.C. conservative politics and policy, offered his own assessment this week of the former president’s upcoming CPAC appearance.