This week, CPAC returns to Washington D.C., and with it comes the usual group of conservative speakers and activists who want to be a part of the conservative movement’s immediate future. And one could argue that this year’s CPAC is one of the most important yet, as it features candidates who will be squaring off on debate stages before too long.
"They want to know that you're going to fight like hell against this woke mob and against socialism."
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) February 17, 2023
So far, there are three declared candidates – Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswami – and all three will be at the event. But it’s seeing how Trump, the former president, and Haley, his ex-U.N. Ambassador, respond to each other that will be the focus of a lot of the attention at the event.
Via The Hill:
It’ll be the first time since Haley launched her presidential bid last week that the two declared major Republican 2024 contenders will pitch their candidacies at the same event. And while few Republicans expect Trump and Haley to go after each other directly, they say that it could offer one of the clearest examples yet of the simmering tensions within the party.
“There’s a lot of next-generation candidates out there, and I think that Nikki is tactfully going to try to make the case that there’s a real choice between these older guys like Trump and this younger generation of leaders that are changing the world,” one longtime Republican consultant said.
“Having them both at CPAC, you’re going to have two very different types of personalities to compare.”
The two candidates have very different visions for what the GOP needs going forward. For Trump, it’s a return to the “glory” of his administration, and a chance to take revenge for an election he believes was stolen. For Haley, it’s a chance for the GOP to move into the future and stop lingering in the past. Those dueling perspectives will be central to the fight the GOP faces internally as this primary gets underway.
That isn’t to take away from Ramaswami, by the way. His own platform – a focus on fighting the woke DEI and ESG policies creeping into our education and business sectors, respectively – is one that bears listening to. But Ramaswami comes in as an outsider, whereas Trump and Haley have not only worked within the system, they have done so as part of the same (previous) administration.
Mike Pompeo, who also served in the Trump Administration, will also be at CPAC, but he has yet to declare his candidacy. Notable, however, is the absence of one particular would-be candidate – Ron DeSantis. He does not appear on the official list of speakers. Also missing is Mike Pence, who served as Trump’s Vice President.
This is the first real test of Trump’s candidacy. It’s likely not a test of if he will take a swing at anyone, but a test of who he will take a swing at. He has not been shy about attacking DeSantis, but how will he push back against Haley and others who are coming for his (alleged) crown?