Donald Trump to speak at CPAC in first major public appearance since leaving office

Sarah Elbeshbishi

David Jackson
 
| USA TODAY

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Former President Donald Trump is slated to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which begins next week, marking his first major public appearance since he left the White House.

Trump’s speech will focus on the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. The former president will also take on President Joe Biden’s immigration policies during his speech, a source familiar with the plans told USA TODAY.

Trump is the first speaker listed on CPAC’s website. Its profile of the former president describes him as the “very definition of the American success story, setting the standards of excellence in his business endeavors, and now, for the United States of America.”

CPAC will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, from Feb. 25-28. The conference, which is usually held in the Washington, D.C., area, was moved to Florida due to COVID-19.

A conference of conservative activists from across the country, CPAC has been a launching pad for many Republican presidential candidates. The former president is just one of a lengthy list of speakers that includes South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Rick Scott of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

The news of Trump speaking at CPAC comes just after the former president broke an uncharacteristic period of silence since leaving office, blasting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a press release Tuesday.

“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm … Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said. “He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our country.”

Trump wouldn’t say whether he would run for president again when asked during an interview with Newsmax on Wednesday. But he did vow to “back primary rivals who espouse Making American Great Again and our police of America First” in his press release Tuesday, indicating that will remained involved in politics and the Republican Party.

Republicans, highly critical of Trump, were not included in the speaker lineup for the “America uncanceled” themed conference.

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a primary organizer of CPAC, worked with the Trump campaign on its election protests in the wake of the loss to Joe Biden.

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