Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican Party was on full display at an annual gathering of prominent U.S. conservatives on Friday as ally Senator Ted Cruz said the former president “ain’t going anywhere” despite violent scenes in Washington last month, Reuters informed.
Prominent congressional conservatives – including Senators Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley, and Representatives Steve Scalise and Matt Gaetz – were among the Trump loyalists expected to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, which Trump will address on Sunday.
“Let me tell you something: Donald Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Cruz.
He also joked about the controversy he generated by flying to a seaside resort in Mexico last week as millions in his home state of Texas were struggling without water or power during a severe winter storm that killed at least two dozen people.
“Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun — but it is nice!” said Cruz.
Trump is expected to talk about the future of the party and lay out policy differences within a group riven by differences in the wake of his chaotic four years in office.
“The divide right now is between the ‘Beltway elites’ and the conservative grassroots around the country,” said a Trump adviser who helped prepare the speech.
Trump will also offer red-meat rhetoric critical of his successor, Democrat President Joe Biden.
Trump’s tumultuous final weeks in office saw his supporters launch a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to block Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory, a win that Trump falsely claimed was tainted by widespread fraud.
Trump supporters at the conference on Friday repeated some of his false claims, arguing that they justified new restrictions on voting.
A total of 17 Republicans in Congress voted to impeach or convict Trump for inciting insurrection, although the Senate vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict. Some prominent Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, blasted Trump for his role in sparking the conflagration, but more members still voice support for him.
Even McConnell was unwilling to keep pressure on Trump, saying in a Fox News interview on Thursday that he would vote for the former president if he were the party’s 2024 nominee – though he described the contest as wide-open.
Trump also faces legal challenges, with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office conducting a criminal investigation of his family-run Trump Organization.