Donald Trump’s Presence Felt at CPAC 2021

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this week, it is clear that Donald Trump is still the leader of the Republican Party. From Trump-themed merchandise to the absence of some potential 2024 presidential hopefuls, the former president's influence can be seen throughout the annual gathering of conservatives.

At the influential Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, former South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley was heckled by backers of Donald Trump while she was delivering her address.[0] The crowd chanted “We love Trump! We love Trump!” as Haley walked the halls of the hotel in National Harbor, Md., that hosted the annual gathering of conservatives.[1]

At present, Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations under President Trump, is the only prominent Republican aside from her old boss to have officially declared her candidacy for the party's presidential nomination.[2] This has provoked the ire of some of President Trump's most devoted followers.[2]

Trump is set to deliver the keynote address at the conference on Saturday evening.[3] Before his turn to speak, the third day of the conference will also include comments from House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, among others.[4]

Trump’s influence is seen throughout the event, from Trump-themed merchandise to the absence of some potential 2024 presidential hopefuls. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is currently weighing a White House run, declined an invitation to CPAC.[5] Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, seen as Trump’s most formidable GOP competitor for the party’s presidential nomination, is also not slated to attend the conference.[6]

People snapped pictures in a mock Oval Office, made up to look as though Donald Trump was still in the presidency, which included images of him and his wife Melania Trump, and a sign saying “Trump was right.”[7] The allies of him were given royal treatment.[7] In the hallway, Steve Bannon, a far-right podcaster, would draw in a crowd of onlookers as he interviewed right-wing public figures like former Trump aide Ric Grenell, halting the flow of foot traffic.[7] Those who held admiration for them came in droves to support recently defeated candidates such as Kari Lake of Arizona and Sarah Palin.[7] People took selfies with Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancee of Donald Trump Jr., and had their children take pictures with Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida.[7]

0. “Trump Supporters Heckle Nikki Haley at CPAC After Speech” Bloomberg, 3 Mar. 2023,

1. “2024 presidential hopeful Nikki Haley heckled by Trump supporters at CPAC” New York Post , 3 Mar. 2023,

2. “Chants of ‘Trump 2024’ greet former SC Governor Nikki Haley at conservative gathering” The State, 3 Mar. 2023,

3. “Donald Trump Makes Big CPAC 2023 Speech Under Pressure” Newsweek, 4 Mar. 2023,

4. “Watch live: Trump to take the stage on Day 3 of CPAC” The Hill, 4 Mar. 2023,

5. “CPAC Has a Major Fox News Problem” The Daily Beast, 27 Feb. 2023,

6. “Trump rival Nikki Haley seeks support from Republicans ‘tired of losing’” The Guardian US, 3 Mar. 2023,

7. “At CPAC, election deniers thrive and the Trump train chugs ahead” The Boston Globe, 4 Mar. 2023,

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