(NewsNation Now) — Donald Trump made his first post-presidential appearance at a conservative gathering in Florida on Sunday.
The 45th president spoke this weekend at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference, more commonly known as CPAC.
The annual three-day summit of conservatism is already underway, but you have to scroll all the way to the end of the CPAC agenda to find Trump, who closed out the event with the final address.
“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 civil war gripping the party over the extent to which Republicans should embrace him, even as he unfurled an enemies list, calling 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 tremendous 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 has begun to wade back into the public, calling into some news outlets after the death of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh and after golfer Tiger Woods’ serious car accident. His aides have been meeting this week to set benchmarks for fundraising and organization for candidates seeking his endorsement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.