ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) — Former President Donald Trump is set to take the stage as the main event for this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday.
The annual political conference features conservative activists and elected officials from across the United States. This year’s event promotes speakers such as Donald Trump, Jr., Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Candace Owens, Sen. Marco Rubio and Papa John.
But many were anxiously awaiting to hear from the 45th President of the United States.
Trump left no doubt he is the most powerful voice in Republican politics. He even pointed to a third run for president in 2024. “We did it twice, and we’ll do it again,” Trump said. “We’re going to be doing it again, a third time.”
Party leaders most likely to seek the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination united behind an agenda that includes more parental control of schools, opposition to pandemic-related mandates and a fierce rejection of “woke” culture. Those messages came from more than a half-dozen elected officials, including Trump and DeSantis.
Another hot topic during Trump’s time on stage was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Trump recently came under fire for “praising” Russian President Vladimir Putin as “smart.”
“Of course he’s smart,” Trump said during the Saturday night conference. “But the real problem is our leaders are dumb.”
While Trump expressed support for the Ukrainian people and called the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a “brave man,” he also noted his friendly relationships with China’s Xi Jinping North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Thomas Longo, a 51-year-old contractor from New York, said he hopes Trump will run again in 2024, but was drawn to DeSantis because of the governor’s hardline stance on issues like vaccine mandates and critical race theory.
“DeSantis is a very powerful man,” Longo said. “He’s hopefully a potential president in ’28, I would prefer, at this point.”