Everyone knows what CPAC is by now, but did you know that Orlando is also hosting another Republican super-spreader event this weekend-- and right down the road? AFPAC-- the America First Political Action Conference is CPAC for people who don't just tolerate white nationalism but who celebrate racism and Naziism. It's also a get-rich-quick scheme cooked up by far right Republican hustler Nicholas Fuentes. Lunatic fringe characters like Laura Loomer, Michelle Malkin and ex-Rep. Steve King of Iowa were the advertised draws for the people who think CPAC is too establishment and not extremist enough. The Friday night keynote was given by Arizona racist and neo-fascist Paul Gosar, a suspect in the 1/6 Capitol insurrection who had worked with the violent Oath Keepers militia to sack the Capitol. CPAC had done some celebrating of its own-- using notorious Republican Party cancel culture to erase Fuentes and his neo-Nazi Groypers, and barring them from attending the bigger and better-known convention, the one that got Trump to attend.
Gosar, who skipped Friday's House votes, reported ABC News, gave a speech blaming Trump's loss on "big business, big tech, and the swamp," and pushed the same Know Nothing anti-immigration rhetoric so popular on the far right fringes. Gosar made the same arguments the next day on a CPAC panel discussion.
On Friday night, Gosar's keynote was followed by a speech by Fuentes that was filled with white grievance and far-right anti-immigration rhetoric. "If [America] loses its white demographic core … then this is not America anymore," the AFPAC founder told the crowd.
Fuentes went on to praise the Capitol attack, boasting about it leading to a delay in the certification of the election results.
"While I was there in D.C., outside of the building, and I saw hundreds of thousands of patriots surrounding the U.S. Capitol building and I saw the police retreating... I said to myself: 'This is awesome,'" Fuentes said to the applause of the crowd.
..."To see that Capitol under siege, to see the people of this country rise up and mobilize to D.C. with the pitchforks and the torches-- we need a little bit more of that energy in the future," he said.
...After spending parts of his speech Friday night celebrating the Capitol riot, Fuentes at one point attempted to walk back his comments.
"I disavow all violence. I disavow all vandalism. I respect the government is sovereign over us," he said-- then added, "Alright, I think that'll stand up in court."
Sarah Baxter is covering this weekend's GOP super-spreader event in Orlando for the Times of London. This morning, she predicted that Señor Trumpanzee will stride into the ballroom "confident that he remains the biggest political superstar on the planet. The Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC)-- the most important gathering of Republican Party activists-- is home to his most ardent supporters. The mere mention of his name guarantees whoops and cheers. He is certain to receive a rip-roaring ovation."
Baxter, however, thinks that though Republican activists love him, they "do not want him to lead them in the 2024 presidential elections... This might come as a shock to Team Trump, which has been preparing the ground for a whopping comeback. Former chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Fox News as the conference opened that Trump was already 'planning for the next administration.'... They do not think his son Don Jr is ready for primetime at the White House either... Don Jr took to the stage on Friday to the pounding of hard rock music. The audience was pumped, too, and cheered him to the rafters. Yet the private reaction by activists was muted. I heard repeatedly that he lacked the 'breadth of experience' to lead the party."
Baxter reported that she found no enthusiasm for Don Jr, Ivanka or Lara as candidates and that there was a lot of sentiment that Trump's time as the leader is over. One Orlando area GOP congressional candidate, Bill Olson (who lost in November to Darren Soto 56-44%) told her that Trump "did a very good job as president, but there doesn’t have to be a Trump-- or son or daughter-- in the ring. It’s not a cult of personality." Baxter failed to tell her readers that the Republican Party absolutely is a cult of personality. Instead she claims-- amid all the Trump-branded merchandise-- "it appeared that activists had come to praise him-- and bury him in syrup."
People she interviewed saw Tucker Carlson, Nick Fuentes, Ron DeSantis, Josh Hawley, even Ted Cruz as potential 2024 successors to Trump. One delusional soul suggested Don Jr run for governor of California where, she said, "He would win by a landslide." I should note that there were California counties where Trump did win by landslides, although none of them have big populations and he lost the state 11,110,250 (63.5%) to 6,006,429 (34.3%). The 3 Trump landslide counties:
Lassen- 74.8% (8,970 votes)
Modoc- 71.7% (3,109 votes)
Tehama- 66.6% (19,141 votes)
Some of the attendees have adopted QAnon as their religion and even believe some QAnon nonsense about Trump being miraculously inaugurated next week (on March 4 or 5, apparently). What a country!
Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican senator who voted to convict Trump, was on State of The Union today warning Republicans that if Trump is the 2024 nominee they will lose, not just the White House, but more seats in the Senate, House and state legislatures. "Over the last four years, we have lost the House, the Senate and the presidency. Political campaigns are about winning. Our agenda does not move forward unless we win. We need a candidate who can not only win himself or herself, but we also have to have someone who lifts all boats. And that’s clearly not happened over the last four years... If we idolize one person, we will lose. And that’s kind of clear from the last election."
UPDATE: CPAC Straw Poll Results
Ron DeSantis- 21% (favorite son)
Kristi Noem- 4%
Nikki Haley- 3%
Mike Pompeo- 2%
Ted Cruz- 2%
Rand Paul- 2%
Tucker Carlson- 1%
Josh Hawley- 1%
Mike Pence- 1%
Tim Scott- 1%
Marco Rubio- 1%
Ben Carson- 1%
Tom Cotton- 0.4%
Mitt Romney- 0.3%
Rick Scott- 0.2%
John Kasich- 0.1%
Larry Hogan- 0.1%
But if Trump doesn't run:
Ron DeSantis- 43%
Kristi Noem- 11%
Trump, Jr- 8%
Mike Pompeo- 8%
Ted Cruz- 7%
Tucker Carlson- 3%