2024 Republican prospects seek their own breakout moments at Trump-dominated CPAC

edition.cnn.com
8 min read
fairly difficult
A slew of ambitious Republicans eyeing bids for the party's 2024 nomination used the two days ahead of former President Donald Trump's appearance at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference to begin staking their own claims as the eventual leaders of the movement built around the former President.
Orlando, Florida (CNN) A slew of ambitious Republicans eyeing bids for the party's 2024 nomination used the two days ahead of former President Donald Trump's appearance at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference to begin staking their own claims as the eventual leaders of the movement built around the former President.

Though it will take years for the 2024 race to fully take shape, this year's CPAC in Orlando, Florida, offered a window into a GOP primary dominated by a new Republican Party built around the grievances that animated Trump's campaigns and his presidency.

Speakers embraced Trump's lies about the 2020 election being rigged. Organizers built this year's event in Trump's adopted home state around the theme of liberal "cancel culture" in the wake of Trump being banned from social media platforms. The crowd booed reminders to wear masks, much like Trump eschewed his own health experts' recommendations.

"Let me tell you right now, Donald J. Trump ain't going anywhere," Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Friday.

And CPAC attendees seemed to agree.

"There's nothing he can say that can make me change my mind about him," Bob Paxton of Ocala, Florida, told CNN.

Red "Make America Great Again" hats and pro-Trump paraphernalia have been ubiquitous, and every CPAC attendee who spoke to CNN said they would support Trump if he decides to run in three years. The unofficial, organized efforts to generate buzz for GOP presidential candidates that were a hallmark of CPACs during the Obama years were nowhere to be found this year.

The weekend in Orlando demonstrated that Trump is poised to be at the center of Republicans' 2024 nominating contest, whether he decides to run again as the clear favorite or instead chooses to play a kingmaker role, setting the terms of the race and determining which candidates are persona non grata in a GOP built in his image.

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The clearest illustration of a conservative base that remains fiercely loyal to Trump…
Eric Bradner and Michael Warren, CNN
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