Months after leaving the White House and despite a smothering Twitter ban, Donald Trump was the overwhelming favorite to run for president in 2024 at this weekend’s CPAC gathering in Dallas, surpassing Florida governor Ron DeSantis by a large margin.
Trump, who headlined the event, finished first in a straw poll with 70 percent of attendees saying they would support him. Despite his meteoric rise in popularity with the conservative base, DeSantis came far behind with 21 percent.
CPAC straw poll names Trump overwhelming 2024 choice
No other candidate in the crowded field of 19 hypothetical competitors reached higher than 1 percent. The poll is another sign that the Republican primary is a two-man show for the foreseeable future, although Trump retains the strongest hold on the base.
It was also an improvement for Trump, who won support from 55 percent of attendees at CPAC Orlando in February, where Trump gave his first public speech since leaving office. DeSantis also came in second in that poll.
DeSantis is widely seen as the favorite to take up Trump’s mantle if Trump were to step aside. Few think that’s likely, leading to speculation of fierce competition down the line. The two men recently had to dismiss rumors of a spat over DeSantis’s inability to attend a MAGA rally in Florida.
DeSantis has won the hearts of many conservatives with his spirited resistance to COVID lockdowns and aggressive actions targeting vaccine passports and critical race theory, and Trump has hinted at taking him on as a running mate in 2024.
Another recent straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit found DeSantis surpassing Trump, just barely, as the 2024 favorite.
Trump on persecution by hostile elites: “We’re not going to take it anymore”
Despite a concerted effort by Silicon Valley and political elites to banish him from political life, Trump has waded more aggressively back into the arena, recently bringing back his MAGA rallies while all but declaring that he will mount a revenge bid in 2024.
In Dallas on Sunday, Trump ripped Joe Biden for turning America into a “giant sanctuary city” and unleashed a powerful broadside against unscrupulous “Marxists” who are persecuting American patriots and gaslighting the nation with “disinformation”, declaring, “we’re not going to take it anymore.”
“Like socialists and communists movements throughout history, today’s leftists do not believe in freedom, they do not believe in fairness, and they do not believe in democracy,” he said.
“Anything is justified as long as it hurts their political opponents and advances the radical agenda of their party,” he said, referring to the smear campaign against Brett Kavanaugh, double standards in the prosecution of leftists and conservatives, illegal spying on his campaign, and other injustices.
“We will not rest until our American heritage of freedom, liberty, and justice is once again safe and once again secure,” he said.