Former US President Donald Trump has said he has no plans to form a new political party, instead vowing to unite a Republican party that broke up after his supporters led a deadly riot on Capitol Hill the United States.
In his first major speech since leaving the White House last month, Trump said the GOP “will come together and be stronger than ever.”
“I am not starting a new party. It was fake news, ”he told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday afternoon.
“We will be united and strong like never before. We will save and strengthen America and we will fight against the onslaught of radicalism, socialism and indeed it all leads to communism, ”said Trump, who spent much of his speech. hit to US President Joe Biden.
Trump supporters have dominated this year’s conference, held in Florida due to the state’s loose restrictions on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the largest annual gathering of Republicans and conservatives in the country, CPAC typically shows the leadership of the Republican Party and its supporters.
While past meetings have served as a forum for debate among a broad coalition of U.S. conservatives, attendees at this year’s meeting spent the weekend expressing their commitment to Trump and asserting his continued dominance in the party.
The event comes as the Republican Party erupted after a deadly riot on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and weeks of false claims by Trump that the November presidential election was stolen from him.
‘At war with himself’
John Hendren of Al Jazeera, reporting from Orlando this weekend, said the conference brought together “the pro-Trump side of the Republican Party,” which he said is currently “at war with itself. “.
Pro-Trump Republicans have stood up for Trump amid accusations he incited the mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol building last month, while others publicly criticized him and some even voted for his dismissal.
Republican lawmakers who have criticized Trump, including MP Liz Cheney and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, were not welcome at the conference, Hendren said.
“It’s really the pro-Trump half of the party. And you would think he’s still in the White House… there are Trump hats everywhere, ”Hendren reported on Saturday.
“It is a party that now has the choice of moving into a post-Trump era or a continuation of the Trump era.”
Trump supporters have traveled across the country to see the former president’s first remarks since he stepped down in January.
Pro-Trump hats, shirts and other accessories were on display at the conference, where attendees took photos next to a gold statue of the former president.
Vickie Froehlich, who was a delegate to the Republican National Convention when Trump was first appointed in 2016, came to CPAC from Minneapolis, Minnesota. If Republicans abandoned Trump, she said, “that would be a huge mistake.”
“I think he’s been great for our country. He’s still very popular, ”Froehlich told Al Jazeera.
Speakers who took to the stage over the weekend, including Senators Rick Scott of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, announced their support for Trump’s continued political mission.
In roundtable discussions, lawmakers and activists also argued against the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results and warned of leftist plots to silence conservative rhetoric.
“I’m not backing down,” said Hawley, one of the Republican senators who voted to overturn the US election results, earning him a long standing ovation at the conference. “No chance! No chance!”
Chris Moody contributed to this report from Orlando, Florida