DALLAS – The road to the 2024 GOP presidential nomination winds through Texas on Sunday, as former President Trump and two other potential Republican White House contenders take the stage on the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas.
Also grabbing the spotlight, the results of the CPAC Republican presidential nomination straw poll, which the former president is expected to dominate, as he did on the ballot at CPAC in Orlando, Florida in late February.
CPAC, long the largest and most influential gathering of conservative leaders and activists, has become a Trump-fest since his 2016 presidential election victory.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 28, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
More than five months removed from the White House, Trump remains extremely popular with the GOP base, as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in the 2022 Republican Party primaries, and flirts repeatedly with making a 2024 presidential run to try and return to the White House.
As expected, Trump easily won the straw poll at CPAC in Orlando, Florida in late February, with 55% support in the hypothetical 2024 Republican primary matchup. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who finished in second place with 21% support, was the only other Republican to reach double digits.
DeSantis, a first-term governor and Trump ally who soared in popularity among conservatives nationwide for his resistance to lockdowns and COVID restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, easily topped a second straw poll that didn’t include Trump. DeSantis finished with 43% support in the hypothetical nomination showdown, with another strong Trump supporter, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, finishing second at 11%.
Just as in Orlando, there will be two 2024 GOP nomination questions on the CPAC straw poll – which the 3,200 attendees at the confab are taking through an online app – one with Trump and one without the former president.
Results of the straw poll will also be released on Sunday afternoon, about a half an hour before the former president speaks. Trump, who’s delivering the gathering’s keynote address, is the last major speaker at the three-day event.
But two other possible 2024 contenders will address the crowd earlier in the day – Noem and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, a former two-term governor who currently serves as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Donald Trump Jr. in 2024?
Some political pundits see Trump’s eldest son as a potential contender for the GOP nomination in the next White House race if the former president doesn’t run.
“I haven’t personally thought about it,” Donald Trump Jr. answered when asked by Fox News on Friday ahead of his CPAC speech if he’s mulled a 2024 run if his father doesn’t launch a campaign.
“There’s some people talking about it in terms of polls,” Trump Jr., who remains very popular with the MAGA crowd, said.
And he touted that “I’ve seen a bunch that has me high up on the list if not at the top of it. Who knows. The reality with that job is you also have to want to do the day job. It’s not just about the campaigning. I love being in that fight. I love fighting for the things that are out there that I believe in as a conservative. I will do that irrespective.”
Crenshaw pushes back on 2024 talk
Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, a rising star in the GOP, on Saturday wrapped up a three-day swing through New Hampshire, the state that for a century has held the first primary in the presidential nominating calendar.
Crenshaw, who lost an eye in combat while serving as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer in Afghanistan, headlined a fundraiser for the state GOP. He also the special guest at the Gold Star Family Dinner. Gold Star families consist of the spouses, children, parents, siblings or others whose loved ones died fighting during U.S. military service. And he also spoke at the Swim with a Mission (SWAM) Veteran Festival, which was a day of military-themed activities for families in support of veterans.
Political pundits see 37-year-old Crenshaw as a possible contender for the next Republican presidential nomination, and the visit to New Hampshire will only fuel more speculation.
But Crenshaw is putting cold water on such talk.
And on Thursday he told television station WMUR in New Hampshire “not anytime soon,” when asked about running for president.
Iowa cattle call
The spotlight moves later this week to Iowa, the state whose caucuses for half a century have led off the presidential nominating calendar.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Noem will all speak Friday in Des Moines at an annual summit hosted by the Family Leader, an influential social conservative group in Iowa.
The Family Leadership Summit is described on the group’s website as the “Midwest’s biggest gathering of Christians seeking cultural transformation.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual Hillsborough County NH GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Earlier in the day Pence will headline a fundraiser for Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra, at the Feenstra Family Picnic, in Sioux Center, Iowa.
Iowa marks Pence’s third visit to an early voting state in recent months, after speaking at an event in South Carolina in late April and New Hampshire last month.
Pompeo’s stop in Iowa will be his second already this year.
And last week the South Carolina Republican Party announced that Pompeo will headline their annual Silver Elephant gala, on July 30. The event’s a top fundraiser for Republicans in the state that votes third in the GOP nominating calendar.
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