Donald Trump made his first post-presidential speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday, during which he insisted that he will not split from the Republicans and start a new party and hinted he might try to take back the White House in 2024.
“As you know they just lost the White House … but who knows, who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time,” the former president said, again making the false assertion that he had defeated Biden last November.
The option of running again is still open to Trump after Democrats failed to get the two-thirds majority vote needed in the Senate impeachment trial to bar him from running for office again. Regardless of whether he does, Trump insisted he will continue to be involved in the Republican Party and shot down rumors that tensions between him and major Republican figures like Sen. Mitch McConnell could lead to a split.
“We’re not starting new parties. They kept saying, ‘He’s going to start a new party!’ We have the Republican Party! It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party. That was fake news,” Trump said. “Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Let’s start a new party and let’s divide our vote, so that you can never win … No, we’re not interested in that.”
In decades past, former presidents have remained silent on their successors’ policies. When Barack Obama, who saw Trump attempt to undo much of his legacy, spoke out against his successor for the first time at the University of Illinois in September 2018, it was considered a major break in tradition.
But it has only taken about six weeks for Trump to strike back against the man that defeated him in the 2020 election as he begins his plans to remain a major figure in the Republican Party heading into the 2022 midterms.
Among the attacks leveled at Biden was a claim that the new president was “triggering a massive flood of illegal immigration into our country,” despite the fact that deportations of undocumented immigrants have not diminished in the opening weeks of Biden’s presidency. Biden had attempted to place a moratorium on deportations during the first 100 days of his presidency, but it was struck down in Texas by a federal district court judge.
Trump also claimed that Biden was “anti-energy,” and said that Biden wants windmills that “don’t work when you need them.” The claim was likely in reference to debunked right-wing claims that winter storm power and heat outages in Texas this past month were caused by failures in renewable energy, even though the state’s energy grid is still heavily reliant on natural gas and fossil fuels. Trump also slammed Biden’s reversal of his withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords, saying that it puts the country at an economic disadvantage.
“What good does it does when we’re clean, but China’s not, and Russia’s not, and India’s not?” he said.
While Biden’s approval rating currently sits higher than Trump’s at any point during his presidency, Trump still enjoys a sizable base of support amongst Republicans. A straw poll of CPAC attendees showed that 68% want Trump to run in 2024, and 55% said they would vote for him if he did run over the likes of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.