By Jack Phillips
Former President Donald Trump delivered his first major speech after leaving office, charting a path forward for the Republican Party and conservatives but suggested that he might run in 2024.
“I may even decide to beat them for the third time,” he said.
Trump said the conservative movement he created “is far from being over” but did not declare that he would try to run against for president in 2024. “There’s never been a journey more successful,” he remarked, adding that conservatives “will be victorious and stronger and greater than ever before.”
“The future of the Republican Party is as a party that defends the social, economic, and cultural interests and values of working American families—of every race, every color, and every creed. Republicans believe that the needs of everyday citizens must come first,” he said on Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.
Republicans over the next four years will be the bulwark against socialism, communism, and Biden administration policies.
“I’m going to continue to fight right by your side,” he said, adding that he won’t create a “brand new party,” adding: “I am not starting a new party.”
Trump has discussed privately running again for president in 2024, according to advisers, but the speech gave no hint of what he might do. The former president has only delivered a few interviews to news outlets since he departed office in January.
“That’s going to be a decision he makes down the road,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“I think without question” the Republican Party remains the Trump party, his son Donald Trump Jr., told Fox News on Saturday. “I think you hear it from the voices. I think you see it in the speeches of others that are in government. I see in the backtracking that you see from some of those who went opposite of that the last few weeks. I think it’s pretty clear. And it should be. Putting America first shouldn’t be controversial.”
Trump’s base at the four-day CPAC event has been so strong that Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. declared it “T-PAC” and participants rolled out a golden statue of the former president.
Trump in the short term is planning to use his influence to support candidates during primaries, according to a statement he sent out earlier this month that also criticized Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Opinion polls suggest that Trump is still the most popular figure in the Republican Party. For example, in a recent poll from Rasmussen Reports, about 73 percent of GOP voters stated that leaders should be “more like Trump.”
Trump’s speech also included attacks against President Joe Biden, including on immigration and security along the U.S. border with Mexico as well as the slow reopening of schools closed due to the pandemic.
“Our focus is certainly not on what President Trump is saying” at CPAC, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said to reporters.
Reuters contributed to this report
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