“It is far from over,” said Trump of the “incredible journey” he and his supporters began four years ago. “We will win and America will be stronger and bigger than ever.”

Trump reiterated his lies about the November election, which President Joe Biden emphatically won with 306 to Trump’s 232 votes, and teased a possible run in 2024: “I might even decide to beat them for the third time,” the former president said in his first public statements since leaving the White House.

He targeted Biden, attacked his immigration policy, and demanded that he “open schools”.

Without evidence, he claimed that Biden’s policy changes are triggering a new crisis on the southern border and triggering a youth migrant crisis. Citing his own efforts as president to expand the border wall, he said Biden would undo his administration’s efforts.

Trump declined any discussion he thought about establishing a new political party: “We have the Republican Party,” he said to applause. “It will unite and be stronger than ever” Trump said at the rally, which served as auditions for other potential Republican presidential candidates.

Trump won the unscientific straw poll of CPAC participants when asked who they favored as GOP presidential candidates in 2024. However, the results suggest that there is interest in other potential candidates. Two polls were conducted, one with Trump’s name and one without. In the straw poll that Trump took part in, 55% of respondents said they would prefer the former president as a candidate for 2024, a further 21% were in favor of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, while South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem was 4 % Came third.

In a second poll that ruled Trump out, DeSantis was way ahead of other competitors at the event in his home state. In this poll, 43% of CPAC respondents supported DeSantis, a close ally of Trump. Noem came in second with 11%, followed by Donald Trump Jr. with 8%, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Texas Senator Ted Cruz with 7% each.

The vast majority of CPAC attendees who took the informal polls at the meeting said they approve of Trump’s work as president. But only 68% said they wanted him to run again in 2024; 15% said they don’t want the former president vying for the GOP nomination, and 17% said they aren’t sure – which indicates the opening up for a new face within the party.

While Trump was setting his next political act last month after his retirement after the president in Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, he refused to take responsibility for his role in serving his supporters during the January 6th storm of the Capitol Inciting violence while confirming the November election results – an event that has exacerbated divisions within the GOP over Trump and his role in the evolving party. GOP Senator Bill Cassidy, who voted to condemn Trump earlier this month, said Sunday that he believes if the Republican Party focuses on Trump to win back seats in 2022 and the 2024 presidency: “We are going to lose. “

“If we idolize a person, we will lose,” the Louisiana Republican told CNN’s Dana Bash on the State of the Union. “And that’s kind of clear from the last election.”

Future elections

Though he has prominent critics in the party, most GOP leaders have stood by Trump when state and local party officials reprimanded Republican lawmakers who advocated his impeachment. Former President has been in Florida not only with one-time aides like his former campaign manager Brad Parscale, but also with visitors like Kevin McCarthy, the House minority chairman who pledged to work with Trump to regain the majority in 2022, and the chairman the Republican National Court held Ronna McDaniel.When asked about the Republicans ‘losses in November, McDaniel defended Trump during an interview on CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday, highlighting his political agenda. After meeting with Trump last week, she said she wasn’t sure Trump would run again in 2024.

“This is going to be a decision he has to make. I know he is committed to helping us regain the majority in 2022, which is of course what I’m focusing on right now,” she said.

In a sign of Trump’s position in the Republican Party, even Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, who blamed Trump for the uprising in a Senate vote after voting for his acquittal, told Fox News last week that he would “Absolutely” support former President if he became the GOP presidential candidate in 2024.

McCarthy anticipated Trump’s influence on the 2022 races and praised Trump during a Saturday panel at the CPAC. He praised the Republicans’ better-than-expected performance in the 2020 races in the House: “We’re getting closer than anyone thought we could … Nobody said we’d win seats,” said McCarthy of the GOP’s efforts at im to win the majority last November. “But that’s the little secret. Do you know why we won this? President Trump worked on all of these races.”

Indiana GOP MP Jim Banks, chairman of an influential group of Conservatives in the House of Representatives, shot at Republicans who were disloyal to Trump during the same panel, warning that efforts to curtail his influence will damage the party in 2022 if they try to regain a majority in the US House and Senate.

“There are very few Republicans – the least popular in our party are those who want to remove Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s supporters from our party,” said Banks, who represents a continuously red district in northeast Indiana. “Let me tell you, if that happens, we won’t win the majority back in 2022. We definitely won’t win back the White House in 2024 if we wipe out Donald Trump.”

This certainty about Trump’s term in office in the Republican Party will encourage the former president as he seeks to shape the upcoming election. After raising millions of dollars from his false claims of election fraud, Trump is considering creating a new super-PAC that could raise unlimited amounts of money with very few restrictions, CNN’s Fredreka Schouten and Jim Acosta reported on Saturday.

In filing with the Federal Election Commission on Saturday, Trump also expanded his potential reach by converting both his presidential campaign committee, Donald J. Trump, and his leadership PAC, Save America, into two political action committees that support other candidates for office can .

In talks with aides over the mid-term of 2022 and future election cycles, Trump has weighed up how to take revenge on the House of Representatives and Senators who cast impeachment votes against him – and the new committees could serve as his means to do so.

He took one of his first steps in that direction on Friday when he threw his support behind Max Miller, who is challenging one of the Members of the House who voted to indict Trump – Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez. Miller explained his reasons for the term on Friday, accusing Gonzalez of “betraying” his constituents in northeast Ohio when he voted in favor of the former president’s indictment.

Loyalty to Trump

Respect for the former president after the January 6th events that stunned the world has underscored Trump’s firm command of the party’s grassroots base, even as much of America is moving away from his election lies and dangerous maneuver to overthrow the democratic process withdrew.

Loyalty to Trump has been shown throughout the CPAC, where panel discussions revived Trump’s debunked allegations of electoral fraud and many of the speakers downplayed the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic – in line with the former president’s pattern – with many speakers pushing the restrictions Represented to stop the virus from spreading as a violation of Americans’ personal freedoms. Although polls showed Trump’s support waned after the Capitol uprising, his approval ratings among Republicans have since rebounded. Three-quarters of Republicans said they wanted Trump to play a prominent role in the GOP going forward, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month, although 68% of Americans said the former president hadn’t done enough to stop the riot.

Trump’s speech at the CPAC will also give him another glimpse into the revisionist story of his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, not long after the nation recorded 500,000 coronavirus deaths. Political conference speakers largely planned President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion bailout package that narrowly passed the House early Saturday morning with all Republicans and two Democrats opposed to the law.

CPAC attendees applauded Noem as they met Dr. Anthony Fauci, the best infectious disease specialist in the country, criticized. “I don’t know if you will agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is very wrong,” said the former congresswoman.

Noem rose to prominence within the GOP over the past year by refusing to give home stay contracts in her sparsely populated state and rejecting demands for mask mandates from the government.

“In South Dakota, I gave our employees all the information we had and then I trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves, for their families, and in return for their communities,” Noem said on Saturday . “We have to show the people how arbitrary these restrictions are – and what coercion, what violence and what anti-freedom steps the governments take to enforce them.”

Biden offered a diametrically different message about fighting the virus on Saturday morning when he welcomed the adoption of his aid package in the house: “We have no time to lose. If we act now resolutely, quickly and courageously, we can finally move forward.” this virus. “

“We can finally get our economy going again, and the people of this country have suffered far too much for far too long,” Biden said in a remark at the White House. “We have to alleviate this suffering.”

This story has been updated.

Jim Acosta and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.