ORLANDO, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Donald Trump made his first post-presidential appearance at a conservative gathering in Florida on Sunday.
The 45th president spoke at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference, more commonly known as CPAC.
“Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage to his old rally soundtrack and cheers from the supportive crowd.
Trump, in his speech, tried to downplay the differences within the party over the extent to which Republicans should embrace him, even as he called out by name the 10 House Republicans and seven GOP senators who voted to impeach or convict him for inciting the U.S. Capitol riot. He ended by singling out Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced significant backlash in Wyoming for saying Trump should no longer play a role in the party or headline the event.
While he insisted the division was merely a spat “between a handful of Washington, D.C., establishment political hacks and everybody else, all over the country,” Trump had a message for the incumbents who had dared to cross him: “Get rid of ’em all.”
Aside from criticizing Biden, Trump used the speech to crown himself the future of the Republican Party, even as many leaders argue they must move in a new, less divisive direction after Republicans lost not just the White House, but both chambers of Congress.
Though Trump has flirted with the idea of creating a third party, he pledged Sunday to remain part of “our beloved” GOP.
“I’m going to continue to fight right by your side. We’re not starting new parties,” he said. “We have the Republican Party. It’s going to be strong and united like never before.” Yet Trump spent much of the speech lashing out at those he has deemed insufficiently loyal and dubbed “RINOs” — Republican in name only — for failing to stand with him.
Trump did not use his speech to announce plans to run again, but he repeatedly teased the prospect as he predicted a Republican would win back the White House in 2024.