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Trump to reemerge on political scene at CPAC

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE will give his first political speech since leaving office on Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a four-day event beginning Thursday that appears set to showcase how the twice-impeached ex-president remains his party’s leader.

The annual gabfest will put Trump, his allies and his movement front and center, while sidelining opponents of Trumpism within the GOP. The gathering will conclude with a Sunday straw poll that is almost certain to declare Trump the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

There is no speaking time allotted for any of the GOP leaders seen as opponents of Trump, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban It's not 'woketivism,' it's good business MORE (Ky.); Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyAdvocacy groups pushing Biden to cancel student debt for disabled 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines MORE (Utah), the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee; Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Oddsmakers say Harris, not Biden, most likely to win 2024 nomination, election MORE; or Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax Republicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Freedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MORE (Wyo.), the third-ranking Republican in the House.

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“Many of these members [that were not invited] are simply more moderate on most issues, which is more indicative on why they were at odds with Trump and the conservative agenda he pushed,” CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp told The Hill. “However, we don’t censor speeches, nor do we ask for speaking notes. It will be a real live experiment on where the conservative movement is at this time, including a poll available to all attendees.”

In a sign of the tension among Republicans, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyWhite House readies for Chauvin verdict McCarthy to introduce resolution to censure Waters House GOP's McClain responds to Pelosi calling her 'that woman' MORE (Calif.), a Trump ally who will speak at CPAC on Saturday, was asked by reporters on Wednesday if Trump should have a speaking slot at the gathering.

“Yes, he should,” McCarthy said tersely.

The question was then put to Cheney, who unlike the GOP leader voted to impeach Trump and was standing behind McCarthy.

“That’s up to CPAC,” she responded. “I’ve been clear about my views and the extent to which following Jan. 6 I don’t believe he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”

Trump’s Sunday speech is expected to focus on the future of the GOP and the conservative movement. Fox News reported Wednesday that Trump will heavily criticize President BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE in the address.

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CPAC will feature a six-part series at which more than a dozen speakers will focus on election integrity, giving a platform to Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud and his false claim that he won the 2020 election in a “landslide.”

The convention will feature speakers such as Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax Republicans fret over divisive candidates The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip MORE (R-Ala.), who voted against certifying the Electoral College vote count and has been a vocal proponent of Trump’s election claims.

The panelists will do deep dives into claims of irregularities and fraud in the states that pushed Biden over the top, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada.

Trump’s campaign lost dozens of lawsuits seeking to throw out Democratic votes and overturn the results in key swing states. The Supreme Court this week declined to review a series of challenges by Pennsylvania Republicans to the state’s expansive mail-voting policy.

Schlapp defended the focus on election integrity this week in a contentious interview with CNN’s Chris CuomoChris CuomoChris Cuomo: Police reform won't happen until 'white people's kids start getting killed' Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting Colbert mocks Gaetz after Trump denies he asked for a pardon MORE, who accused him of providing a platform to spread conspiracy theories that were embraced by the rioters that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

One primary area of focus at CPAC will be the moves in some states to expand access to mail voting during the pandemic, which in some instances was done at the last minute and did not go through the legislative process.

“We’re actually going to spend a lot of time going through what happened in these states,” Schlapp said.

“Just because you fail in court doesn’t mean you don’t have a good case,” he added.

CPAC will also focus on “cancel culture,” censorship and what they view as the growing threat to speech from the tech giants, the news media and Democrats. The conference’s tag line is “America Uncanceled.”

Many Republicans are eager to move beyond Trump’s election claims, which some blame for the GOP’s losses in the Georgia runoff elections, which cost it the Senate majority.

In McConnell’s blistering remarks about Trump following the second impeachment trial, the Senate GOP leader drew a direct line from Trump’s election claims to the violent riot that consumed the Capitol.

Trump responded with a series of blistering personal attacks against McConnell and his family and a vow to back primary challengers against Republicans he views as disloyal.

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The tension between Trump and McConnell has put Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the leader of the Senate GOP campaign arm, in a tough spot as he seeks to take back a majority in the Senate.

Scott, a potential 2024 presidential candidate who will speak at CPAC on Friday afternoon, released a video on Wednesday urging Republicans to put their differences behind them.

“As chairman of the [National Republican] Senatorial Committee, many have told me that I should mediate this conflict,” Scott said. “Here’s my response — absolutely not. I’m not going to mediate it. I’m going to end it. So there’s your breaking news. The Republican civil war has now been canceled.”

While Trump will be the main attraction at CPAC, his message will be amplified by McCarthy, Donald Trump Jr. and Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGOP struggles to rein in nativism 'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party Boehner: 'America First Caucus is one of the nuttiest things I've ever seen' MORE (R-Fla.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTop House Republicans ask Harris for meeting on border The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax Waters: Fauci 'was being bullied' by Jordan during hearing MORE (R-Ohio).

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who has in the past expressed interest in the QAnon conspiracy theory, will speak in defense of the Second Amendment.

CPAC will also feature Republicans seeking to take up the former president’s mantle and possibly become the next GOP nominee if Trump decides not to run again, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDeSantis signs 'anti-riot bill' cracking down on 'public disorder' WHO panel comes out against requiring vaccination proof for travel Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives MORE (R) and GOP Sens. Scott, Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE (Ark.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban 'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party Is the antidote to bad speech more speech or more regulation? MORE (Texas) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Is the antidote to bad speech more speech or more regulation? MORE (Mo.), as well as former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Pompeo violated ethics rules, State Dept. watchdog finds MORE.

Even some opponents of Trump acknowledge his hold on the party.

Romney this week said that if the Republican presidential primary were held today, Trump would win the nomination in a “landslide.” Romney said that he would not vote for Trump, but rather would find an alternate candidate that represents his “tiny wing” of the Republican Party.