Trump withdraws from CPAC speech

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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCould President Hillary heal a divided nation? Trump lands first major newspaper endorsement Clinton: Trump's election talk poses 'threat to our democracy' MORE has withdrawn from his speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), event organizers announced over Twitter on Friday.

Trump was slated to speak at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, but said in a statement that his campaign schedule will keep him from fulfilling the commitment.

The Republican presidential front-runner has two rallies in Michigan and one in Louisiana planned for Friday. On Saturday, Trump has announced a newly scheduled rally in Kansas, where voters will be caucusing that day. He finishes Saturday at a rally in Orlando.

“Because of this, he will not be able to speak at CPAC as he has done for many consecutive years,” the Trump campaign said in a statement. “Mr. Trump would like to thank Matt Schlapp and all of the executives at CPAC and looks forward to returning to next year, hopefully as President of the United States.”

A poll released by Trafalgar Group found Trump has a narrow lead in Kansas, taking 35 percent support, compared with 29 percent for Cruz and 16 percent for Rubio. Six percent of voters in the poll said they remain undecided. 

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) backed Trump's move.

A controversial figure in conservative circles, Trump was the target of bashing by some speakers Friday at CPAC.

Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said the businessman "has no business thinking he is Tea Party." 

"Trump is about love of himself," she said. "But the Tea Party is about love of country and the love of our constitution."

CPAC is an annual gathering of grassroots conservatives in National Harbor, Md. Thousands of conservatives from across the country flock to the three-day event for panels and speeches by top Republican lawmakers and conservative thought leaders.

Trump is the only Republican presidential candidate still in the race who will not address the conference this year.

Ted CruzTed CruzIs Georgia turning blue? Five takeaways from money race Club for Growth: Anti-Trump spending proved to be 'good call' MORE, John Kasich and Ben Carson will speak on Friday, while Rubio is scheduled to speak on Saturday.

Carson is widely expected to announce the end of his presidential campaign at the conservative confab on Friday.

The conference is usually a top draw, but has been overshadowed this year by the packed schedule of debates, primaries and caucuses.

Rubio was under fire in February amid speculation that he’d have to withdraw, but he ultimately committed to a Saturday time slot that allows him to swing by and return to the campaign trail.

Republican voters will caucus or primary in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine on Saturday, and in Puerto Rico on Sunday.

Trump his hoping to score big wins in those contests and expand his delegate lead.

The businessman now has 329 delegates, according to The Associated Press, while Cruz has 231, Rubio has 110, Kasich has 25 and Carson has 8.

- Updated at 3:17 p.m.