Former President Donald Trump reportedly plans to use his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference to make clear that he is still at the top of the Republican Party.
Trump’s speech is set to be a “show of force,” according to one of his advisers, with Trump making clear that he “may not have Twitter or the Oval Office,” but he is “still in charge.” The former president also plans to assert that he is the “presumptive 2024 nominee” for the GOP, pointing to his overwhelming support from the party’s base and grassroots organizers.
Trump is also set to meet with his closest advisers to plot a political course forward this week, with a focus on the 2022 midterm elections. Trump plans to endorse primary challengers to Republicans he feels betrayed him in the weeks following last month’s Capitol riot.
“Trump effectively is the Republican Party,” Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told Axios of the former president’s future plans. “The only chasm is between Beltway insiders and grassroots Republicans around the country. When you attack President Trump, you’re attacking the Republican grassroots.”
That reality has already played out for the small number of Republicans who voted to impeach or convict Trump after the riot, with many facing censures and harsh criticism from the grassroots of the GOP back in their home states.
Trump plans to use CPAC to demonstrate his leverage over the GOP, making clear that he controls the future of the party regardless of whether he decides to run in 2024. The former president will use the next week to set up a formal vetting process for potential endorsements, requiring that they raise money and put together an organization.
His leadership political action committee Save America already has $75 million in hand and a database of millions of names.
Some sources close to Trump believe that he will use a future run for president as a threat due to the leverage and attention it would help him gain, but he does not plan to make the run a reality.
Trump will also use the speech to attack the Biden administration, while he will attempt to make clear that many of his predictions about the new president have already proven true. The former president will also hit on the themes of his 2016 campaign, slamming “the swamp” and making a case that there’s still work to be done in draining it.
“Much like 2016, we’re taking on Washington again,” one source said.