The former president announced on Friday his endorsement of a former White House aide who is running for election in Ohio, opposing one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him in January.
Max Miller, a 32-year-old Marine reservist and Trump loyalist, is the first candidate Trump has endorsed since leaving the presidency.
Trump’s endorsement is designed to punish the incumbent Republican, Representative Anthony Gonzalez, who voted for Trump’s impeachment.
The endorsement is seen as the first step in Trump’s campaign to get vengeance on those who crossed him while in office.
Trump was at his West Palm Beach course on Friday, ahead of his Sunday speech to CPAC, held this year in Orlando.
Donald Trump was spotted playing golf at his West Palm Beach course on Friday
Wearing his trademark Make America Great Again baseball cap, the former president took to the greens
Trump played a round with a younger friend on Friday, with both enjoying the warm Florida weather
Max Miller, a former White House aide (pictured with press secretary Stephanie Grisham) was endorsed by Trump on Friday
Headline speakers on Friday included Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who last week escaped the snow storm that stranded millions of his constituents, and made an ill-advised getaway to Mexico.
Cruz, chastened, returned 24 hours later to help his fellow Texans, and admitted it had been a mistake.
Trump has played frequently since leaving the White House
‘Orlando is awesome,’ Cruz told CPAC.
‘It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice.’
Madison Cawthorn, representative for North Carolina and the youngest House member at 25, whipped up the conservative crowd by warning that ‘brutal and vicious Democrats’ want to turn the U.S. into a ‘Communist ash heap.’
Josh Hawley, senator for Missouri, was given a standing ovation for recounting how he had backed Trump’s evidence-free claims of election fraud, while Tom Cotton, senator for Arkansas, used his time to lash out at The New York Times, accusing the papers’ staff of being ‘woke’ children.
Matt Gaetz, the fiercely Trumpian Florida representative, used his speech to take aim at Andrew Cuomo, New York governor and frequent Trump critic.
‘Now, the fake news media and their allies in Silicon Valley made Governor Cuomo out to be some iconic cross between King David and Tom Brady – what a big lie that turned out to be,’ Gaetz said.
He referenced allegations of sexual harassment made against Cuomo by a former employee, who claimed Cuomo suggested other staffers engage in ‘strip poker’.
Cuomo denies the charge.
Gaetz also referenced the controversy about Cuomo’s handling of the COVID pandemic – in particular his decisions surrounding nursing homes.
‘Meanwhile, they were ‘stripping’ Granny out of the COVID ward at the hospital and tossing her in the nursing home in just enough time to infect everybody and then go back to the hospital so that deaths could be recategorized for politics,’ said Gaetz.
Senator Ted Cruz kicked off his remarks to CPAC with a joke about his controversial trip to Cancun
Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida used his speech to take several swipes – both at members of his own party and at Democrats
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley gave a fiery speech where he vowed he wasn’t going anywhere, called for Big Tech to be broken up and slammed China. ‘Josh, Josh, Josh,’ the crowd shouted as he left the stage
A giant golden idol of Donald Trump has been brought to CPAC in Orlando
Trump’s speech is seen as the CPAC highlight, and his supporters have been eager to present it as his resumption of control of the Republican Party.
An idol to Trump has been put on display at the merchandise show at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
On Thursday it was revealed that he had formed a super PAC, with Corey Lewandowski in charge.
On Friday, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle previewed Trump’s Sunday speech, declaring the president to be the future of the Republican Party.
‘The Republican Party is being reborn thanks to President Trump,’ Guilfoyle declared.
‘It is being reborn as a party of the working class of minorities, of hard working American men and women, the party of America First, the party of President Trump.’
Trump Jr. told the crowd: ‘I’m looking forward to Sunday. I imagine it will not be what we call a low energy speech.’
He added that his father’s remarks would ‘solidify Donald Trump and the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.’
The two spoke to the annual gathering of the conservative faithful on Friday in Orlando
Donald Trump Jr and Kimberly Guilfoyle previewed Donald Trump’s return to the political stage when the duo addressed CPAC on Friday
Kimberly Guilfoyle said the Republican Party is being ‘reborn’ thanks to Donald Trump while Donald Trump Jr said his father’s speech on Sunday would not be ‘low energy’
Trump is expected to be a force to reckon with in next year’s election and his MAGA mob of supporters are expected to play an outsized role in the House and Senate primaries.
‘We bid a farewell to the weak need the spineless, and the cowards that are posing in DC, pretending that they’re working for the people,’ said Guilfoyle.
She called on the Trump faithful to ‘send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.’
And, to the delight of the crowd, she held up her arms in victory and repeated the line from her speech to the Republican National Convention – a line that launched a thousand memes: ‘And yes the best is yet to come.’
Trump Jr., meanwhile, used his remarks to attack Representative Liz Cheney, one of the 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of his father’s second impeachment trial.
‘Speaking of bombing the Middle East. have you seen Liz Cheney’s poll numbers,’ he said.
This year’s CPAC speakers’ roster is full of of fervent Trump supporters.
Notably absent from the list is Mike Pence, who was a regular speaker when he was vice president.
Nor is Nikki Haley attending. She questioned Trump’s efforts to overthrow the election in an interview with Politico and Trump reportedly refused to see her when she tried to come to Mar-a-Lago to make amends.
Also not on the list is Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who publicly chastised Trump for inciting the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
And conference organizers did not invite any of the 17 Republican members of Congress who voted to support Trump´s second impeachment. Nor did they invite any major Trump critics.
The Conservative Political Action Conference is an event organized by the American Conservative Union, whose chairman, Matt Schlapp, is close to Trump.
It’s a must-stop for conservatives looking to raise their profile among the party faithful and on the national stage. The roster is filled with potential presidential candidates and those guaranteed to bring applause from the right-leaning crowd.
Donald Trump will use his speech Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference to push repeated claims that he is the true victor of the 2020 presidential election
Trump will use his speech Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference to push repeated claims that he is the true victor of the 2020 presidential election, and attack Joe Biden – particularly on Biden’s immigration policy.
‘I think the broader point will be: Here’s where the Republican Party and conservative movement and the America First movement goes from here,’ senior Trump adviser Jason Miller told the Associated Press.
‘In many ways, this will be a throwback to 2016, where the president ran against Washington.
‘Here we’ll see the president address the fact that the only divide in the Republican Party is between the elites and the conservative grassroots in the party.’
Schlapp said he expected Trump to outline an active role in Republican Party politics but couldn’t say if the former president would definitively throw his hat in the ring for another White House run.
‘I’m not sure what he’s going to say about 2024 but I’m pretty confident he’s going to make it clear that it’s a very viable possibility,’ Schlapp told Reuters.
‘Donald Trump is going to stay in the game and will be involved in primaries and he’s going to opine and he´s going to give speeches, and for establishment Republicans it puts shivers down their spine.
‘They’re very concerned he’s going to continue to have an impact.
‘My advice to them is to get used to it.’