The Conservative Political Action Conference took place from Feb. 25 through Feb. 28 in Orlando, Florida. Former President Donald Trump made his first public appearance since leaving office, calling for unity within the GOP and announcing that he does not plan on forming a separate political party, contrary to what some sources previously claimed.
CPAC, which took place at the Orlando Hyatt Regency Hotel, attracted many supporters of the former president, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Many prominent Republicans who have voiced their concerns about the direction of the GOP and Trump chose not to attend the conference, including Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president and winner of the 2012 CPAC Straw poll.
Trump and fellow speakers stated that the Nov. 2020 election had been stolen, and spoke of the “socialist” direction he feels that the Democratic Party is taking. He also spoke about many Republicans who have voiced their anti-Trump views and his hope that people would vote them out in the next election. During his speech at the Conference, the former president also alluded to the possibility of a potential 2024 presidential bid.
Trump spoke favorably about the Republican Party and sought to unify the party with his speech. He argued that if he formed a new party and diverged from the Republicans, it would lead to a number of lost elections for conservatives.
The Convention featured a six-foot tall gold statue of Trump wearing shorts and flip-flops created by California artist Tommy Zegan. The statue, created as a fiberglass mold of a real stainless steel sculpture, is headed to a conservative nonprofit known as “Look Ahead America.”
At CPAC, organizers take a straw poll of those in attendance. The straw polls, which are secret ballots, collect the opinions of conservative politicians, authors, activists and others who attend the Conference. In the 2021 CPAC straw poll, 68% of those polled voted in favor of the former president running for reelection in 2024, while 95% of those polled wanted to see Trump’s key policies and principles reflected in the Republican agenda in the next election.