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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Trump Promises to Work Through Republican Party but Plans to Purge RINOs

'I’m going to continue to fight right by your side. We’re not starting new parties'...

(Headline USA) Taking the stage for the first time since leaving office, former President Donald Trump called for GOP unity, even as he attacked a small segment of Republicans who hate him in a speech that made clear he intends to remain a dominant political force.

Speaking Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he was hailed as a returning hero, Trump blasted the already-cascading failures of his successor, President Joe Biden, and tried to lay out a vision for the future of the GOP.

“Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage to his old rally soundtrack and cheers from the supportive crowd.

In his speech, Trump downplayed suggestions of a civil war within the party over the extent to which Republicans should embrace him, even as he unfurled an enemies list, calling out by name the 10 House Republicans and seven GOP senators who voted to impeach or convict him for false allegations of inciting the U.S. Capitol riot. He ended by singling out Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash in Wyoming for saying Trump should no longer play a role in the party or headline the event.

While he insisted the division was merely a spat “between a handful of Washington, D.C., establishment political hacks and everybody else, all over the country,” Trump had a message for the incumbents who opposed him: “Get rid of ’em all.”

The conference, held this year in Orlando instead of the Washington suburbs to evade burdensome COVID-19 restrictions, served as a tribute to Trump and Trumpism, complete with a golden statue in his likeness on display. Speakers, including many theoretical 2024 hopefuls, argued that the party must embrace the former president and his followers.

They also repeated in panel after panel claims that he lost reelection because of mass voter fraud.

Trump, too, continued to repeat what Democrats have dubbed the “big lie,” calling the election “rigged” and insisting that he won in November.

“As you know, they just lost the White House,” he said of Biden, rewriting history.

Trump also delivered a sharp rebuke of what he framed as the new administration’s first month of failures, especially Biden’s approach to immigration and the border.

“Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” Trump said.

Aside from criticizing Biden, Trump used the speech to crown himself the future of the Republican Party, though a few leaders (like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) argue they must move in a new, less divisive direction after Republicans lost not just the White House, but both chambers of Congress.

Trump pledged Sunday to remain part of “our beloved” GOP rather than pursue creation of a third major political party.

“I’m going to continue to fight right by your side. We’re not starting new parties,” he said. “We have the Republican Party. It’s going to be strong and united like never before.”

Yet Trump lashed out at those who the majority of the party considers “RINOs” — Republican in name only — for falsely accusing him of political nefariousness and constantly cozying up to Democrats and the legacy media.

“We cannot have leaders who show more passion for condemning their fellow Americans than they have ever shown for standing up to Democrats, the media and the radicals who want to turn America into a socialist country,” Trump said.

Trump did not use his speech to announce plans to run again, but he repeatedly teased the prospect as he predicted a Republican would win back the White House in 2024.

“And I wonder who that will be,” he offered. “Who, who, who will that be? I wonder.”

The conference’s annual unscientific straw poll of just over 1,000 attendees found that 97% approved of the job Trump did as president. But they were much more ambiguous when asked whether he should run again, with only 68% saying he should.

If the 2024 primary were held today and Trump were in the race, just 55% said they would vote for him, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 21% — but if Trump was to run, other potential candidates would almost certainly clear the field for him. Without Trump in the field, DeSantis garnered 43% support, followed by 8% for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and 7% each for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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