The Slatest

Trump to Speak at CPAC in First Public Appearance Since Leaving White House

Then-President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center February 29, 2020 in National Harbor, Maryland.
Then-President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center February 29, 2020 in National Harbor, Maryland. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump is getting back into it. Trump will make his first public appearance and lengthy address since leaving the White House on Feb. 28, when he will speak at next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Trump will address the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. “Also look for the 45th President to take on President Biden’s disastrous amnesty and border policies,” a source told Politico.

CPAC, as the conference is commonly known, will take place Feb. 25-28 in Orlando, Fla. Trump has been a regular at the conservative conference since his first appearance in 2011. When Trump was president, the gathering, which is organized by longtime Republican strategist Matt Schlapp, was an unabashed celebration of his administration. In his appearance at the conference last year, Trump downplayed the threat from the coronavirus and insisted that his administration had everything under control (he also made out with an American flag). Two weeks later, the pandemic had turned into a huge crisis.

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Trump’s former No. 2, Mike Pence, declined an invitation to speak at the conference. Although some organizers are apparently still hopeful they’ll be able to convince the former vice president to make an appearance, others close to Pence say he plans to lay low for the next six months.

Although Trump has given a few interviews to friendly outlets and released statements since leaving the White House, this will mark the first time he will speak before an audience. Many will be eager to see how he follows up on his statement blasting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted against convicting Trump in his Senate impeachment trial but still said the former president was to blame for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Trump is apparently planning to play a role in next year’s midterms and has reportedly told advisers recently that he plans to run for president again in 2024 so the CPAC appearance makes sense considering the conference has served as a launch pad for candidates. Several potential presidential candidates are also going to be attending, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Tom Cotton from Arkansas, Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas, and Sen. Rick Scott from Florida, among others.

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