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The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas kicks off on Thursday with an eye on November’s midterm elections as the world’s “largest and most influential gathering” of conservatives plans to focus on the future.
“I think the first question is, how big is this big red wave going to be if you want to be a part of it? And the second piece is when Republicans get power, what do we expect of them? And I know President Biden or Kamala Harris will be the president, but there are key strategic decisions for a new Republican majority, even if it’s just in the House that they need to make now or be thinking about now,” American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp told Fox News Digital.
“I know Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan and others are thinking about it, but I think that conversation is also a public conversation, and I think it all comes at a critical time as we commence CPAC on Thursday,” Schlapp said.
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Former President Donald Trump, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon and Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, are among a jam-packed lineup of speakers, which will also feature international guests like Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban.
“I think is what’s important for American conservatives to understand is that the whole world to root them on. They want us to succeed in November because they hate these Biden policies,” Schlapp said.
Trump, who will speak on Saturday evening, recently delivered speeches at America First Policy Institute and Turning Point USA events. The former president has historically given memorable speeches to the CPAC crowd, resulting in MAGA-loving moments such as his famous embrace of the American flag.
“I think the CPAC speech is unique because it is so inherently tied to the beginning of the campaign season,” Schlapp said. “You kind of don’t know what to expect, I know he’s got a speech that they’re working on.”
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Schlapp believes President Biden’s “incompetency is very Carter-esque” and conservatives have a reason to be fired up for CPAC with the midterms looming.
“I think for a generation to come, people will associate this new socialist Democratic Party with two things: Radical policies that hurt their families and then in practicality, which they don’t want any part of. And I think it’s going to give the Republican Party, or at least the conservative movement, a chance to govern for a generation if they do the right things,” he said.
Trump will sit atop the GOP presidential nomination straw poll ballot at CPAC, along with 20 other Republicans considered potential White House contenders in the 2024 election. CPAC attendees will be able to partake using the event’s app.
The 2024 straw poll will include a second list, without Trump. The former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., takes his place in the first spot on the ballot in the second 2024 question. Both ballot questions allow for respondents to write in the name of a potential candidate not listed or say they’re undecided.
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In addition to Trump, the Texas CPAC main ballot will include Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee; former Vice President Mike Pence; former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; Cruz, who was runner-up to Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries; Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, two more 2016 presidential candidates; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
Other prominent Republicans on the list include Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R., and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trump, who has repeatedly teased another White House run in 2024, captured 59% of ballots cast in the anonymous online straw poll at the annual CPAC gathering in Orlando, Fla., in February.
CPAC will hold the Dallas gathering for the second straight year at the Hilton Anatole. Fox Nation will provide a live stream of the event.
CPAC Texas runs from Thursday to Sunday. It was historically held in Washington, D.C., but has been held in Florida and Texas in recent years as Schlapp wanted to reward red states for supporting the conservative movement.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
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