Donald Trump Could Tighten Grip Over GOP With Crowd-Pleasing Repeat at CPAC

Former President Donald Trump will give a speech at July's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in what is widely expected to be another major address.

Trump spoke at a CPAC event in February and will return to deliver remarks in Dallas, Texas next month as speculation continues to swirl about his intentions for the 2024 presidential election.

The theme of July's event is "America UnCanceled"—a reference to so-called cancel culture—and experts who spoke to Newsweek on Thursday suggested Trump would use the speech to assert his continuing hold over the Republican Party.

Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London's Centre on U.S. Politics, told Newsweek Trump may repeat unfounded claims about the 2020 election to the approval of the attendees.

"If there's one talent Trump has in spades, it's knowing how to rev up his audience. Claims of fraud in the 2020 election are too much of a crowd pleaser at CPAC to go a full speech without mentioning them," Gift said.

"Put simply, it's the red meat his base wants—and Trump always gives his base what it wants. At the same time, there's no reason why Trump can't also look forward and drop hints about a possible 2024 bid. The whole idea of holding out as long as possible to announce his intentions is itself a political tactic— designed to generate whispers, create suspense, and fuel speculation about his candidacy. It's a no-loss proposition.

"On the chance Trump does want to throw his hat in the ring in 2024, there will be plenty of time to lay out a vision for what a Trump 2.0 White House might look like," Gift added.

"For now, Trump's goal is simple: to keep his brand front and center. If that means repeating the 'Big Lie' to get a roar out of the CPAC crowd, that's what he's going to do."

Robert Singh is a professor at the Department of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. He told Newsweek the former president was unlikely to cover much new ground.

"I doubt that Trump will use the CPAC speech to set out a vision, as such. It will probably be a tweak to his standard stump appearances and media forays: relitigating the 2020 election, attacking the Biden administration's record, and deriding 'establishment' Republicans," Singh said.

"The theme of 'Uncancelling America' may be the nominal way that these various strands are linked together—that Republicans are not doing enough to stand up to 'woke' forces running amok from universities to corporate boardrooms.

"But there seems little incentive for Trump to do more to outline a substantive program or platform at this stage. The fact that George P. Bush has announced he's running for attorney general in Texas, positively mentioning Trump while pointedly not mentioning his father Jeb, uncle George W., or grandfather George H.W. Bush, says it all about Trump's continuing hold over the party."

Mark Shanahan is a professor and head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at Reading University and the author of Eisenhower at the Dawn of the Space Age. He told Newsweek Trump could focus on attacking President Joe Biden.

"There's some irony in Donald Trump speaking at a conference built around free speech never being silenced in the week he's taken down his own blog through sheer lack of interest," Shanahan said.

"A large part of the reason Donald Trump lost the presidential election in 2020 was that he had nothing new to say; no new ideas to bring to the table and simply a litany of lies and negativity. The blog had continued the same old shtick and it's highly unlikely anything will have changed by July."

"The next month will be all about Biden," Shanahan said. "With the G7 Summit upcoming in England followed by his meeting with Putin in Geneva, the president will own the headlines while Trump fumes at Mar-a-Lago. The Dallas CPAC meeting gives 45 a chance to strike back and bask in the plaudits of a crowd of conservative loyalists.

"But he needs more than the raucous applause of a home-team crowd to show he still has relevance in the GOP as the countdown to the midterms ticks up a notch. He has to move on from the scratched-record of the stolen election. But what new can he bring to the table?

"He seems devoid of policy ideas, so expect another attack on Biden's radical agenda and the creeping socialism of the Democrat legislature. Expect attacks on Republicans seen as less than loyal not so much to the GOP cause but to the cult of Trumpism. Don't expect to hear about a run for the White House in '24. He'll continue to tease—it keeps the media interested, potential primary adversaries worried and his base onside"

"What do I expect of Trump? More of the same. It's all he's got," Shanahan said.

Newsweek has asked former President Donald Trump for comment.

Former President Trump Leaves Trump Tower
Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on May 18, 2021 in New York City. Trump will speak at CPAC in July. James Devaney/GC Images/Getty Images