Trump, DeSantis favored for president in 2024 by CPAC attendees
ORLANDO, Florida - Could there be a Trump DeSantis ticket for all of Florida in 2024?
While former President Donald Trump made it clear on Sunday that he would continue to be heavily involved in GOP politics from his new home base in Florida, his supporters made it clear that they see Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as Trump's heir.
About an hour before Trump took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, the organization released an informal poll of attendees that found 55% would support Trump for another term, with Governor Ron DeSantis right behind with 21% lies. All other potential candidates are single-digit registered.
DeSantis tells Conservatives: Florida is an "oasis of freedom" under his leadership
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla. On Sunday, February 28, 2021 (AP Photo / John Raoux).
Trump stopped to declare a comeback presidential campaign, however, as was widely speculated prior to his CPAC speech, his first public comment since leaving office on Jan. 20.
After teasing a potential run by saying, "I want you to know I will continue to fight by your side," Trump cited his 2016 election victory and baseless claims that he won the 2020 election by adding: "Who knows? I may even decide to hit her a third time."
With no Trump as a candidate in 2024, DeSantis led the field in the CPAC poll with 43%, followed by Kristi Noem, Governor of South Dakota with 11% and Donald Trump Jr. with 8%.
In his speech, Trump refuted reports that he could start a new party. Furthermore, the former president's CPAC address was a review of previous campaign stumps speeches - berating "stupid" businesses, saying Democrats are "radicals" and "communists" and extolling the border wall while claiming America's energy independence as a government achievement.
There were also some new twists, such as advocating the reopening of all schools, breaking down the "dropout culture", rejecting transsexual participation in women's sports and calling for electoral reforms. The delivery, however, was a little more subdued than the political wrestlemania that featured Trump's 202 campaign rallies.
Despite the CPAC lectures for potential 2024 presidential candidates, such as U.S. Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, it was clear that the choice for CPAC attendees was Trump.
A woman takes a photo with a gold Donald Trump statue at the Conservative Political Action (CPAC) conference on Friday, February 26, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. (Sam Thomas / Orlando Sentinel via AP) ORG XMIT: FLORL801
"President Trump is the leader of the Conservative Movement. He is the leader of the America First Movement. He is the leader of the Republican Party," Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan said to chants of "USA!"
"And I hope that on January 20, 2025, he will be the leader of our great country again," said Jordan.
Democrats said they welcomed a Trump comeback candidacy and saw it as an opportunity for them as much as for right-wing conservatives and Republicans.
What is CPAC? A brief history of the most influential gathering of the Conservative movement
They pointed out that Trump lost the referendum in his 2016 race against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Then, when Trump turned the 2018 mid-term congressional election into a referendum on his administration, the Republicans lost the U.S. House with a cumulative vote deficit of nearly 10 million ballot papers.
In November Trump lost the referendum to Joe Biden with 7 million votes as well as a unilateral defeat of the electoral college. Then, in January, the GOP gave up control of the US Senate by losing two runoff elections in Georgia.
"It looks more like a murder-suicide pact than a political strategy. You are killing democracy while you are committing political suicide," said former Obama presidential campaign advisor and advisor on democratic communications, Spencer Critchley. "Look at the file. Trump has lost every way he could lose. Your party is shedding members and shrinking at an alarming rate for them."
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That sentiment was corroborated by a now independent political strategist who advises Democrats and warned his former Republican colleagues who said last week the GOP's embrace of Trump resulted in nothing but defeat, including President Biden's victory in November.
"Biden won because he wasn't Trump," said Atiba Madyun, a Washington-based political strategist who founded Party Politics US.
Supporters cheer and wave as former President Donald Trump is introduced at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, February 28, 2021. (AP Photo / John Raoux)
As Critchley noted, Republicans have seen a drop in voter registrations following the January 6th uprising in the U.S. Capitol that stunned the nation. This trend has also surfaced in heavily pro-Trump Republican Florida.
An analysis of Florida voter registration records by the Palm Beach Post found that 24,266 Republicans left the party for the month between January 12 and February 9, although the losses were offset by a gain of 19,494 people who joined the party were. Even so, the flowing party changes left the GOP in Florida with 4,772 fewer voters.
By comparison, only 6,432 Democrats left the party, while 17,052 voters joined, leaving the Democrats with 10,620 additional voters according to the analysis.
The total is low, a net loss of just under 5,000 voters. But for now, at least, it disrupts a year-long trend in which GOP voter registrations outperformed rival Democrats.
From 2016 until last fall's election, Florida Republicans took in around 600,000 new voters to reach the 5.1 million in the state. Democrats took in just over 430,000 to hit 5.3 million, giving the party a lead of 183,596 voters over Republicans among the registered voters, according to the state Electoral Department's latest report.
Nonetheless, in front of the Orlando Hyatt Regency, where Trump was speaking on the CPAC stage, a crowd of Trump fans came out to show support.
"We should pick all three: House, Presidency and Senate. I love them all, and it was so obviously a bargain," said Kathy Norton, who supported Trump for President and Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. for Congress.
Norton said she traveled in a 200-car limo trailer from Tampa to the place she said she was there.
Other key themes advocated.
"If you don't respect life, what is it? It's the only reason I vote for a candidate," said Theresa Cibotti of Orlando.
Although the nation marks a grim milestone - 500,000 people died from COVID-19 - the CPAC straw poll found that the three main themes were electoral integrity, constitutional rights and building a border wall.
An immigration attorney said Sunday that tough immigration policies were not popular with a cross section of Americans, including evangelicals and faith-based voters.
Joel Tooley, senior pastor of the Melbourne Church of the Nazarene, said the vast majority of evangelical voters in the United States support bipartisan immigration reform that "provides a path for legalization for many people in the country like Dreamers and TPS (temporarily) sheltered Status) owner. "
Tooley said he understands that parts of the US population still have reservations about immigration reform efforts.
"Humanity as a whole is conditioned to protect us and our interests at the expense of others," said Tooley. "While this is not an American ideal, for some reason it is something that is very difficult for them to contemplate, especially for those very concerned about losing their comforts, losing their preferences, and losing their way of life to appear as people who can contribute something healthy to their lives. "
But he said most of the people he speaks to - from people of faith to people in business and other sectors of society - believe that immigration strengthens the entrepreneurship and creativity that make the country better.
"I think we can lose sight of looking at the wall and what a tool of fear it is, but I don't want to get lost," he said. "I'm more looking at the future potential of this nation and the potential that immigrants have."
That Trump received the nod from CPAC attendees came as no surprise, but DeSantis received such a hug was not to be expected.
Christian Ziegler, vice chairman of the GOP in Florida, said, "President Trump is in the driver's seat," but added that "it's not rocket science" to see why DeSantis is causing a stir among grassroots Republicans. He said DeSantis delivered "Freedom" to Florida and the country took note of it.
"President Trump's report on the struggle for Conservatives is second to none ... If Trump were to pass a run in 2024, it is very clear that the Republican Party has a deep bank of leaders and candidates, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis having the Pack leads. " he said.
But Democrat Nikki Fried, Florida's commissioner for agriculture and consumer services, said Trump did not "deserve" the country's attention.
"Our country de-registered, banned, and deviated from the insurgent, twice-accused former president," said Fried, who could challenge DeSantis in 2022. "He deserves no attention from anyone other than law enforcement. President Biden puts an American first."
Critchley, the Democratic strategist agreed.
"The current Republican Party has just tried to overthrow our democracy. They participated in an attempted coup against our democracy. They tried to essentially end American democracy," said Critchley, author of Patriots of Two Nations: Why Trump was inevitable and what happens next. " . "" That should be an absolute show stopper in a world of moral clarity. They shouldn't be anything else to talk to this party about. "
However, Critchley said the GOP's ongoing Trump bear hug opens up an opportunity for Democrats.
"This is an exciting opportunity if the Democrats can find out," he said.
Critchley said Democrats need to rely less on political argument and "go back to the inspiration of an Obama or JFK or FDR" by mixing "spiritual and faith-driven and emotional with rational and technocratic political speech".
He also said Democrats will also be able to target disaffected Republicans, saying that Establishment and Hardline Republicans "speak different languages and relate to different realities that are defined differently".
"We can reclaim people in good faith by addressing their hearts and souls, not just their intellects," added Critchley.
Postal worker Chris Persaud contributed to this story
This article originally appeared in the Palm Beach Post: Trump, DeSantis, who was voted President in CPAC's 2024 poll
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