CPAC Day 1: Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott and Ted Cruz to Headline



Mr. Scott, who is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and will speak on Friday, released a video this week declaring that the “Republican civil war is canceled” and rallying opposition to Mr. Biden.

But that was more easily said than done, coming days after Mr. Trump had slashed the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, as “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack.”

“If Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. (Mr. McConnell, who said in an interview on Fox News late on Thursday that he would support Mr. Trump if he were the Republican nominee, will not appear at CPAC.)

For Mr. Trump, who is slated to be the final major speaker of the conference on Sunday afternoon, returning to CPAC is something of a homecoming. His speech there a decade ago, in 2011, was an early breakout point in his political career and sketched out some of the themes that would define his two runs for president, down to his closing line (“Our country will be great again”).

One former senior Trump administration official is among the slated speakers and potential 2024 candidates: Mr. Pompeo, a former congressman and Central Intelligence Agency director. As Axios first reported, Mr. Pompeo recently set up a limited liability corporation called Kansas CNQ — CNQ stands for “Courage Never Quits,” a reference to his West Point class — and has been maintaining a public profile.

One Republican who could figure significantly in the party’s future but will not be at CPAC is former Vice President Mike Pence. For four years, Mr. Pence played the loyal sidekick to Mr. Trump, but his refusal to support the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election earned the ire of Mr. Trump and many of his supporters, including some who rioted at the Capitol.

Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, called it a “mistake” for Mr. Pence to skip the event. Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, is also skipping the event.


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