President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) annual meeting at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, U.S., February 29, 2020.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
Donald Trump is expected to slam President Joe Biden and seek to retain his grasp on the Republican Party’s future on Sunday during his first major political address since departing the White House last month.
Trump will tell a high-profile gathering of conservative activists in Orlando, Fla. that “the incredible journey we began together four years ago is far from over,” according to excerpts of his prepared remarks obtained by NBC News.
“The Republican Party is united. The only division is between a handful of Washington DC establishment political hacks, and everybody else all over the country,” Trump is expected to say.
Trump is widely expected to eventually declare a bid for president in 2024, though it is not clear if he will use his address at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to do so. He has made it clear that he has no intention of withholding comment on the actions of his successor, as many past presidents have done.
“We all knew that the Biden administration was going to be bad — but none of us imagined just how bad they would be, and how far left they would go,” Trump is expected to say.
Consistent with his penchant for dramatic exaggeration, Trump will call Biden’s first month in office “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history.”
Trump’s political ambitions have put Republicans in a tight spot electorally. The 74-year-old remains overwhelmingly popular in the party, but failed to beat Biden in the 2020 election after losing support among moderates and independents.
After losing the presidential contest, Trump refused to concede for weeks and was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges that he incited the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.
While the Senate ultimately acquitted him, top Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have issued stinging rebukes of Trump’s actions.
Far from attempting to unify the party, Trump is expected to go after some Republicans on Sunday, including Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment. Donald Trump Jr., the ex-president’s son, attacked Cheney at CPAC on Friday, saying she was “tied to an establishment that has done nothing but fail us.”
Earlier this month, Trump denounced McConnell in a statement as a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack.”
While Trump has refused to leave the limelight, he has had less direct access to the public since he was banned from Twitter for violating its policies against inciting violence. The company has said the ban will remain in place even if Trump runs for office again. Trump is expected to attack “Big Tech” in his remarks.
Sunday’s address is also expected to include a number of themes at the heart of the Republican Party’s policy agenda, such as being tough on China and pushing for stricter immigration rules.
“The future of the Republican Party is as a party that defends the social, economic, and cultural interests and values of working American families — of every race, every color, and every creed,” Trump is expected to say. “Republicans believe that the needs of everyday citizens must come first.”
Trump will also press for Biden to “get the schools open right now,” according to the excerpts of his remarks.
Since leaving the White House, Trump has faced escalating legal peril in New York, where Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is apparently examining potential bank and insurance fraud related to Trump and his company, the Trump Organization.
Vance received years of Trump’s tax returns and related documents on Monday after a protracted legal fight that twice made it to the Supreme Court. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused Vance of being motivated by politics.
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