Former President Donald Trump will take the stage at CPAC this year, at a time for the Republican party that is arguably one of the most critical moments in the party’s history.
Though the former president isn’t slated to speak until Sunday, there have already been numerous speakers praising Trump and reassuring his supporters that he’s not only here to stay, but he’ll be a bolstering force for pro-MAGA Republicans in the 2022 midterms.
On Friday, CPAC leaders unveiled an actual golden statue of the 45th president, and it has Democrats absolutely freaking out on social media.
— JeffersonObama (@GauvinGlaude) February 26, 2021
Reuters has the story:
U.S. conservatives praised Donald Trump at an annual gathering on Friday, even unveiling a golden statue of the former president, showing he remains a Republican political force despite violent scenes in Washington last month.
Prominent congressional conservatives – including Senators Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley and Representatives Steve Scalise and Matt Gaetz – were among the Trump loyalists speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, which Trump will address on Sunday.
“Let me tell you something: Donald Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Senator Ted Cruz.
Trump’s tumultuous final weeks in office saw his supporters launch a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to block Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory, a win that Trump falsely claimed was tainted by widespread fraud.
If there was any doubt that CPAC this year was devoted to Trump, the statue of the former president, dressed in a blue jacket, red tie, and red, white and blue boxing shorts, was on display at the conference site.
The statue drew instant derision online, with commentators comparing it to the golden calf that enraged the prophet Moses in the Old Testament.
“Idol worship isn’t conservative. #RestoreOurGop,” Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 attack, said on Twitter.
Gaetz declared himself part of the “pro-Trump, America First” wing of the conservative movement. “We’re not really a wing, we’re the whole body,” he said.
He also appeared to forecast a future role for Trump, who is pondering another run for president in 2024: “Trump may not have drained the swamp all the way – yet.”
Trump is expected to talk on Sunday about the future of the party and lay out policy differences within a group riven by differences in the wake of his chaotic four years in office.
“The divide right now is between the ‘Beltway elites’ and the conservative grassroots around the country,” said a Trump adviser who helped prepare the speech.
Trump will also offer red-meat rhetoric critical of his successor, Democrat President Joe Biden.
Trump supporters at the conference on Friday repeated some of his false claims, arguing that they justified new restrictions on voting.
In addition to the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, seven Senate Republicans voted to convict him of inciting insurrection, although the 57-43 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict.
Some advisers say they want Trump not to use his speech to relitigate the election at length but instead offer a road map to Republicans’ regaining control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 2022 congressional elections.
I’m pretty confident in assuming that Republicans didn’t intend for the statue to be a Biblical reference. It was clearly meant as a great honor to one of America’s greatest presidents, plain and simple.