Will Donald Trump launch his 2024 bid at CPAC 2021? Here is why Mike Pence declined the invitation
Organizers of the event are reportedly still hoping to change Pence's mind about attending the conference
Former President Donald Trump is about to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, next Sunday, February 28, marking his first public appearance since leaving the White House on January 21. The event is expected see him not only talk about the future of the GOP but also slamming President Joe Biden's immigration policies. At the same time, sources have revealed to CNN that former Vice-President Mike Pence declined an invitation to speak at the conference.
Sharing news of Trump's upcoming appearance, journalist Maggie Haberman tweeted, "Trump is going to CPAC next week, which is being held in Orlando. He will speak Sunday afternoon. He’s expected, per a senior aide, to talk about the future of the GOP as well as Biden’s immigration policies." However, she followed it up noting how "Trump’s aides have been weighing where and how to have him emerge. But his 21st century political career essentially began at CPAC in 2011." This sparked speculation that the ex-POTUS could potentially launch his bid to run for office in 2024 at this year's CPAC.
Trump’s aides have been weighing where and how to have him emerge. But his 21st century political career essentially began at CPAC in 2011.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 20, 2021
CNN reports that organizers are still hoping to change Pence's mind about attending the conference, based on what a source told the outlet. Another told them that Pence is planning to stay under the radar for another six months. Tensions between Trump and Pence arose surrounding the January 6 riots at the US Capitol, and especially with Pence's role in ratifying the results of the November 2020 presidential election in favor of Biden. Pence had also attended Biden's inauguration ceremony in Washington DC last month while Trump stayed out of the event, traveling to his Mar-a-Lago home with his wife Melania and their son Barron.
Although Pence had skipped Trump's farewell ceremony, his former chief of staff Marc Short told CNN that the two 'departed amicably' and have spoken since. It is also worth noting that Pence allegedly played a direct role in fueling baseless claims of election fraud that Trump repeatedly pushed for ahead of the attack on the Capitol. However, Short told CNN: "We accept Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States.
Sources close to Trump who are aware of his speech at the event told CNN that "he'll be talking about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement." They added: "Also look for the 45th President to take on President Biden's disastrous amnesty and border policies." The outlet reports most senate Republicans are unsure of how to treat the former president at his upcoming public appearance. But since his exit from the White House, several campaign managers, senators, and representatives have met with him privately at his new residence.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has, however, vowed to never meet with Trump privately. The feud between the two has seen the seven-term McConnell publicly criticize Trump, and more recently the ex-president said in a statement that he will only endorse candidates in Senate primaries who support his views.