Hear what conservative voters at CPAC acknowledged about Trump


There is clear evidence C-PAC is less of a draw this year, at least in part because other Republicans know it is Donald Trump's room. For years, the conservative gathering drew a long list of Republicans looking to build support.

This year, though, the list of 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls relatively short only Trump Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo and Vivek Ramaswamy are speaking walk around the event.

And it is clear Donald Trump is the top drawer. He will deliver the keynote speech on Saturday. CNN's Kristen Holmes is there for us, joining us now live from CPAC. And so some candidates coming, some staying away.

I remember at CPAC, oh, 30 plus years ago, it's very different now. Very Trumpy, right? So why not just very Trump? He's not just the top drawer, but the entire thing seems to be branded around Donald Trump.

All the merchandise, the shirts, the bumper stickers, everything is either Trump or Trump affiliated and is a real who's who of the MAGA world. Earlier today was Marjorie Taylor Greene Matt Gates speaking just moments ago.

With Kimberly Guilfoyle and Don Jr. And given how Trump centric it is and by the way, of course, all of these people are calling for Trump to be president again. In 20, 24. We are interested to see how the crowd reacts when we do see those three potential 2024 hopefuls later today, particularly.

When it comes to Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley, who served under Trump. Now in terms of the crowd, that enthusiasm from the speakers does seem to have trickled down to many here in the crowd. They believe that this is a movement.

But I want to play for you one interview because we spoke to a number of people here. I asked them about 20, 24 what their thoughts were about Trump, about DeSantis. Listen to this interview because we heard this a lot. The I am a Trump supporter.

Because he's a warrior. He's the only one that can pull this through. I think he has to really wait. He's still very young. He's got young children. He's got a wife that's recuperating from breast cancer. He's doing a great job in Florida.

I don't think he should go up against Trump. As for me, this is actually something we heard a lot. A lot of people who support Donald Trump saying that they also loved Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but they just didn't believe that it was his turn.

Now, obviously, the Florida governor is not here. He and several other of these major potential. 20, 24 candidates are in Florida at a private donor retreat hosted by Club for Growth, one that notably former President.

Trump was not invited to. But it was interesting to see how people view these two candidates here. And again, we are watching to see how the crowd reacts to these other potential 2024 hopefuls. Remarkable event.

Remarkable event, I guess first at home. Thanks for being there for us. Let's bring the conversation in the room with our great reporters. I'm the older guy at the table. I was not there when Barry Goldwater gave CPAC a big name. But Barry Goldwater was really for smaller government.

And against the communists. Ronald Reagan used CPAC as a huge springboard when he was saying we need smaller government and to be against the Soviets. CPAC today very different as evidenced by some speakers this morning.

I ended up putting a sign outside my office door that said there's only two genders, male and female, trust the science. I think we had to spend four or five days asking the Chinese spy balloon what its pronouns were before we were willing to shoot it down. Make no mistake,.

This is an investigation of Joe Biden and to determine whether or not Joe Biden, first of all, lied to the American people. I think we're going to be all right on that answer. But secondly, is Joe Biden compromised? It was once a testing ground.

For conservatives. And Republicans. It is now a testing ground for Mega. That's not necessarily conservative. And some people argue it's not very Republican. So C-PAC is a business and C-PAC has evolved to be what is good for business.

And what is good for business right now is MAGA, whether that be MAGA in the form of Trump or MAGA in the form of Marjorie Taylor Greene or Matt Gates. And so this is a conference that over its years has sort of followed.

Where where the money is, where the excitement of the base is. And and absolutely the Republican Party and what it used to stand for is completely scrambled by Trump and by a lot of other people. Are they pro-defense? Well, not in the way they used to be.

Are they pro-business? Not if they can pick a fight with a business for being woke. So it's it's just a different party at least in this area. And I think some of the people who aren't there would like it to be the party that they remember. It's not.

I mean, I think that the primary will sort of help decide that. And even elected leadership in the Congress is to attend these events, these speeches. And as Mitch McConnell is vilified at this event.

Yesterday, Rick Scott, who challenged him for the leadership, Scott lost that and after the elections went wrong for the for the Republicans. But he was touting his challenge to Mitch McConnell. He got a huge round of applause for doing that.

Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the House. Now, they're the two most powerful Republicans in Congress, really the only elected member of leadership on either side is there's Elise Stefanik, who's aligned herself with the MAGA wing of the party.

The question will be whether or not this crowd at CPAC really translates to the early voters in the key states Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, where they will. That is, is this where the party, the base really what they believe?.

These are the same people who will come out to vote or is it just a small segment of the MAGA base not going to influence voting then? It is a key question it is Trump's room. To your point about the business, part of it is absolutely DEAD-ON correct. It's Trump's room.

The question is how big is is it when you get outside of national harbor where they're meeting here near Maryland get across the country what percentage of republican electorates they are. But you do have secretary of State Pompeo is going there.

Today, former secretary of state, former ambassador, former governor Nikki Haley, the entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy trying to cut in the Republican field. He's an entrepreneur. The idea for them. Is it that. Well, you know, Trump.

Right now is formidable. These Republicans always whisper but will he disappear? Legal troubles, some other issues, will he disappear? So that's sort of I could be your plan B, is that their point? And can he be the most effective?.

Can Trump be the most effective that still galvanizing around some of these culture war issues and still fall under the umbrella of Trumpism? You know, it's DeSantis and Pompeo Even Nikki Haley, in her campaign speech, you still heard some elements.

Of tapping into some of the issues that Trump has used in recent years to galvanize both Many of the people that you're going to see at CPAC and others across the country, even when you played that clip early on, we saw that list of issues, whether it be.

Talking about education or who does which bathroom, you know, when it comes to gender and bathrooms and schools as well, immigration border crime. You know, the people that are you're going to see other potential candidates go there.

And just because there's questions around really how Trump will fare in the months ahead, you'll still see many people that are trying to compete in this contest appealing to some of those same issues that he is. I think the question is,.

Do you try to present yourself as Trump Lite, right. And hope he disappears somehow or hope voters decide. You heard that woman say he's a warrior. Republicans lost in 20, 18, 20, 20 to 20, 22. Is that the warrior you want leading you into the fight?.

Or as Rich Lowry writes in Politico. If the current situation holds, there's no way around Trump. Only through. And that will require making a case against him. So that's the question for these other Republicans. Will you directly challenge him.

Or do you just try to somehow outmaneuver. That was the real problem for these these candidates in 2016 No one really knew how to run against it. Remember Jeb Bush. He tried to prosecute a case against him. He was considered the frontrunner. That didn't quite work.

But this is different. He's president for four years. He has a record that can be used against him. Who will do that? Who will do that is the question. The first debate scheduled in August.

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3 thoughts on “Hear what conservative voters at CPAC acknowledged about Trump

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