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Trump Dominates CPAC, Setting Stage for GOP Battles Ahead


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OXON HILL, Maryland –The Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, swept through the DC area over the weekend. While more candidates formally announce their intentions to seek a White House bid and some others inch closer, CPAC was still all about former President Donald Trump.

Speaking at the conference Saturday, America's 45th president said, "In 2016, I declared I am your voice; today I add, I am your warrior, I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed I am your retribution. I am your retribution – not going to let this happen."

Trump closed out CPAC, to the delight of his supporters. But what was once a premier destination for rising conservative stars or presidential hopefuls had thinner crowds this year. And attendees made one thing clear: Trump was still their guy.

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Sharon Anderson, a Trump Supporter from Tennessee, explained, "I have friends who say 'President Trump lost his mojo.' President Trump's lost nothing. When he starts back on the campaign trail everyone will see. And I truly believe that if you were ever a supporter, you're still a supporter. If you called yourself a supporter and now you're thinking differently, you were never a true supporter."

Another Trump backer exclaimed, "This is a battle! This is a hill that we'll die on. We'll bring President Trump back!"

CPAC was founded in 1974, with Ronald Reagan giving the inaugural keynote speech. Trump has dominated the convention lately, and easily won the conference's straw poll for the GOP presidential nomination with 62% of the vote.

Another 2024 presidential contender, President Trump's former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley addressed CPAC. She said, "We've lost the popular vote in the last 7 out of 8 presidential elections. Our cause is right, but we've failed to win the confidence of a majority of Americans. That ends now. If you're tired of losing, put your trust in a new generation."

Haley finished a distant 4th in the poll. She announced her White House bid last month.

CPAC's Republican divide was emphasized when Haley was heckled by Trump supporters chanting, "We love Trump! We love Trump! We love Trump!" while greeting people after her speech. 

That didn't sit well with Juan Echeverry, one of the few attendees who seemed ready to move on.

"I got a little bit heated," he said, "because I think sometimes the Republican Party got a little bit of a cultist mentality, that we think that Trump deserves the presidency, it was stolen from him and he has a birthright to it. That's not the case, he's going to be challenged, and rightfully so."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was notably not at CPAC and still finished a distant 2nd in the straw poll., further solidifying that it's Trump or nobody at CPAC, for now.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) stated, "Not just here at CPAC but everywhere I go, President Trump is the guy I want back."

Another attendee, Rene Campbell, said, "I am a Trump supporter 100 percent. I believe Ron DeSantis is a great governor, and I think he should stay there for another four years."

One Trump supporter said of Desantis, "If he runs this time against Donald J Trump, the MAGA movement will destroy him."

While Trump was the main event at CPAC in the D.C. area, another competing influential conservative group was meeting in Florida. The Club for Growth held its own competing event in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence highlighted the donor event while Haley, Mike Pompeo, Sen. Tim Scott and others spoke to potential financial backers. Trump was not invited. 

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About The Author


Matt Galka serves as a Capitol Hill Correspondent and Senior Washington Correspondent for CBN News. He joined CBN in March of 2022 after most recently reporting in Phoenix, AZ. In Phoenix, Matt covered multiple stories that had national implications including reports on the southern border and in-depth coverage of Arizona's election audit. Prior to Phoenix, Matt was in Tallahassee, FL reporting on state government at the Florida Capitol and serving as a general assignment reporter. Matt's stories in Arizona earned him multiple Emmy awards and nominations and he's also been recognized by the