Trump gets rapturous reception at major US Republican conference


Donald Trump – ALON SKUY/AFP

Donald Trump dominated an event billed as the “biggest gathering of conservatives in the world” this week, as supporters donned “Trumpinator” T-shirts and declared their loyalty for 2024.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just outside Washington was unofficially nicknamed “TPAC” as it became clear the vast majority of those attending were backing the former president.

CPAC had previously been seen as a key event for any would-be presidential nominee Republican to speak at.

But Ron DeSantis, considered Mr Trump’s main rival for the 2024 nomination, and former Vice President Mike Pence, opted to speak at a separate event in Florida.

Nikki Haley, the only major candidate to have declared her run against Mr Trump, faced chants of “Trump, Trump” as she walked through the venue.

Nikki Haley - RSSIL/MEGANikki Haley - RSSIL/MEGA

Nikki Haley – RSSIL/MEGA

Mr Trump was due to give the keynote speech on Saturday night, and his son Donald Trump Jr. received a strong reception.

Other speakers at the event included Mr Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump and proteges Marjore Taylor Greene and Kari Lake.

The former president was expected to win the CPAC straw poll, which in the past has been seen as an indicator of support among Republican activists.

In last year’s poll Mr Trump beat Mr DeSantis by 59 per cent to 28 per cent

One hat seller at this year’s event said “Trump Won” and “MAGA” hats were outselling DeSantis caps by 50-to-one.

Also on sale were giant edible Trump gingerbread men, Trump cowboy hats, Trump purses, and T-shirts depicting Mr Trump as the “Trumpinator” and Superman.

Supporters lined up to have their photographs taken in a mocked up Oval Office, behind a replica of the Resolute Desk.

Among the issues being discussed at this year’s event was climate change.

Morgan Chrisman, 24, representing Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends, said China should be held accountable.

Lara Trump - Alex Brandon/APLara Trump - Alex Brandon/AP

Lara Trump – Alex Brandon/AP

She said: “The environmental cause has been very much driven by the left for pretty much the entire time, and that has alienated a lot of young people, and made them think that the GOP doesn’t have solutions for that.

“We think that there are capitalism-first, market-based solutions that are far more effective than the solutions being put forth by the left, but do not compromise on conservative values.”

Meanwhile, Mr Trump put forward a plan to hold a contest to create up to 10 new “Freedom Cities,” which would be built on government land.

It would include investment in “vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles” – flying cars – for families.

Some compared the ide to The Jetsons, the fictional cartoon family who lived in Orbit City.

The plan would also include “baby bonuses” to encourage a new baby boom, and the cities would become “hives of industry” as the US became less reliant on Chinese imports.

Mr Trump said it would “reopen the frontier” and lead to a “quantum leap in American living standards.”


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