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CPAC 2021 agenda indicates Trump remains the future of the Republican Party

Former President Donald Trump to make his first post-White House public appearance at CPAC 2021. Utah’s Sen. Lee and Rep. Owens will also participate in the conference

President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag after speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, at the National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Md., on Feb. 29, 2020. He is scheduled to speak at this year’s CPAC as well.
Jose Luis Magana, Associated Press

During the next four days, Republican’s will rally in Orlando, Florida, at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference, titled “America Uncanceled.”

If history is an indicator, CPAC 2021 will be an opportunity for the fractured GOP to establish the future direction of the party. And this year’s conference sends a clear message that former President Donald Trump remains the party’s leader.

Trump, who has made Florida his home state, is scheduled to close out the four-day conference Sunday afternoon in his first public appearance since leaving the White House last month. His speech is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. EST.

It’s unclear whether Trump will introduce the next generation of Republican leaders — a passing of the torch and potential launching point for presidential hopefuls — or if his speech will lay the foundation for his own 2024 presidential campaign.

But what is known is who will — and will not — be rallying the party in Orlando. The list of guest speakers and panel participants includes members of Congress, governors and conservative activists who have publicly supported Trump.

And noticeably absent from the CPAC’s agenda is Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — the “the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in American history,” according to the his official biography — and the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment for “incitement of insurrection.”

After voting to acquit Trump in his second impeachment, McConnell delivered a Senate floor speech denouncing the former president as culpable in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Responding to McConnell’s condemnation, Trump attacked the longtime GOP standard-bearer, saying the Kentucky Republican’s “dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality” cost the GOP a Senate majority, Politico reported.

On Sunday afternoon, it is Trump who will get the final word to address the sold-out conference of conservatives.

CPAC beginnings

Founded in 1974, the annual conference “brings a large crowd of conservative activists, political leaders, pundits and public intellectuals together” to “discuss politics and strategies,” wrote Daniel Parker in his University of Pennsylvania dissertation in 2015.

Through his research into the origins of CPAC, Parker found that the conference was a way to unite the “badly fragmented” conservative movement of the 1970s. He wrote that over the first several years of the conference, it developed as a way “to purify, expand, rationalize, and guide the development of the conservative movement.”

Speaking at the inaugural CPAC in 1974 was then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan. The future president and modern Republican icon spoke of the varying backgrounds of the Founding Fathers and the unity they found to sign the Declaration of Independence and later the U.S. Constitution.

“This had been a philosophical revolution. The culmination of men’s dreams for 6,000 years, and they formalized those dreams with a constitution. And that too was something of a miracle,” Regan told the audience of conservatives in Washington, D.C.

The 2021 CPAC agenda

The “America Uncanceled” conference will run from Thursday evening though Sunday afternoon.

The organizers of CPAC, the American Conservative Union, will host a long list of guest speakers that looks like who’s who of the Trump-era GOP. They include politicians Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, and conservative activists and personalities, such as Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk and podcaster Dan Bongino.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. He is expected to participate in this year’s CPAC.
Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee, who campaigned for the former president, will help kick off the first full day of the conference Friday morning at 9:20 a.m. EST, with speech titled “Why the Left Hates the Bill of Rights ... and We Love It.”

Donald Trump Jr. will also speak Friday — at 3:35 p.m. EST — with the topic of “Reigniting the Spirit of the American Dream.”

Other notable appearances will include former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and former Vice President Mike Pence — who will attend Saturday evening’s Ronald Reagan Dinner.

According to CPAC’s agenda, the conference includes breakout sessions and sponsored events with topics that include:

  • “When Government Grabs the Wheel: The Imminent Threat to Your Daily Drive.”
  • “Same Badge, Different Beat: To Protect And Serve or Socialist Social Workers.”
  • “Israel and Anti-Semitism.”
  • “Tea Party Patriots — Surviving Socialism.”
  • “Fraudulent 2020 Election in South Korea and the United State — Lessons Learned and Warnings for the Future.”
Burgess Owens, Republican candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, talks to reporters during an election night event for Republican candidates at the Utah Association of Realtors building in Sandy on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Burgess Owens, then-candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, talks to reporters during an election night event for Republican candidates at the Utah Association of Realtors building in Sandy on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Owens is scheduled to speak at CPAC 2021 later this week.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Utah’s freshman Republican Congressman Burgess Owens is part of a Saturday panel called “In the Left’s Own Words: ‘Disrupting the Nuclear Family.’” The panel will be moderated by Mary Vought — of the Senate Conservatives Fund — and Jack Brewer, Leo Terrell, and Morgan Zegers will join Owens.

CPAC’s website advertised three levels of tickets for the conference, from $330 for general admission to $2,500 silver and $7,500 gold packages. The CPAC 2021 website said Thursday that all tickets had been sold out.

CPAC is hosting a livestream of the conference events here: America Uncanceled Live Stream