For a major bloc of the Republican Party, the GOP is still Donald Trump’s show.
Despite President Joe Biden’s Justice Department and the FBI, despite the possibility of party division heading to the 2024 primaries, the 45th president remains the top draw of the Republican Party.
And landslide results from Saturday’s Conservative Political Action Conference showed it isn’t even close.
Among more than 2,000 participating in the straw poll at the annual CPAC gathering at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Trump ran away from the field with 62 percent of the vote, according to Fox News.
That was far ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who got 20 percent of the vote. DeSantis has not yet officially announced he is running and did not attend the CPAC meeting.
Finishing third was Michigan businessman Perry Johnson with 5 percent, according to Fox. Johnson only announced his bid for the GOP nomination on Thursday, hours after speaking at CPAC, according to The Associated Press.
Rounding out the top five were former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley at 3 percent, according to the Washington Examiner, and former pharmaceutical executive Vivek Ramaswamy. For the ethnic bean counters on the left, that makes a man and a woman who are offspring of immigrants from India who are in the conversation for the Republican nomination for president.
Both Haley and Ramaswamy spoke to the CPAC audience before Saturday’s polling. DeSantis skipped the CPAC gathering entirely in favor of a conference of the conservative Club for Growth in Palm Beach, Florida. (The fact that Trump was not invited to Club for Growth, according to Fox, is a sign of the divisions the party is facing.)
Trump has been the dominant candidate at CPAC for years, but the results of this year’s polling are noteworthy since they are coming after a year of ever-rising persecution from the supposedly nonpartisan DOJ.
Not only did the duplicitous Attorney General Merrick Garland approve the FBI raid on Trump’s home in South Florida’s Mar-a-Lago Club in August, but his Justice Department just last week claimed Trump could be considered responsible for “incitement to violence” for a speech he gave on the day of the Capitol incursion on Jan. 6, 2021, while Trump was still president.
National Review’s Andrew McCarthy — a former federal prosecutor and no supporter of Trump — ripped that idea to shreds on in a column on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Kari Lake, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona who’s fighting in Arizona’s Supreme Court over the results of the November election, was the leading favorite for vice presidential nominee at 20 percent of the CPAC vote, according to Fox.
Tellingly, DeSantis came in second as the choice for vice president of 14 percent of those polled, but the few who’ve heard Trump’s comments about the Florida governor lately would expect that ticket in 2024.
For Lake, it’s different. She’s a vocal Trump supporter and has been since she first started running for office. Anyone even casually familiar with how events played out in Arizona on Election Day knows that something was more than a little bit hinky about the outrageous failures of the voting machines in Arizona’s largest county — failures that hurt Lake and consequently benefited her Democratic opponent, current Gov. Katie Hobbs.
Still, the Arizona Supreme Court hasn’t even taken her case yet, and if it does, it’s a long shot that it would actually “set aside” the November results, as Lake seeks, and order a new election.
In other words, Lake might well have free time on her hands for the 2024 election — and there’s no denying she would make a formidable running mate for Trump if he wins the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2024.
Besides geographical balance — an eastern candidate with a western running mate — both Trump and Lake have a talent for taking the fight to the mainstream media (a talent DeSantis shares).
Both are media-savvy (Lake was an Arizona television anchorwoman before getting into politics).
And both speak directly to the hearts of conservative ambitions for the country and frustrations with the current “woke” world (as does DeSantis).
A scene where a rejuvenated Trump was running for president with Lake at his side would be a powerful movement for Republicans — in contrast to the doddering Joe Biden with the consistently inept Kamala Harris or whatever other running mate Democrats can dig up for “the big guy.”
The mainstream media, the Democratic Party, the “deep state” machinators in the federal bureaucracy and the nation’s increasingly suspect “intelligence” agencies would like nothing better than to declare the nation’s 45th president politically dead.
But it’s not a ghost that won the CPAC poll. And it’s not a ghost that’s dominating a major bloc of the Republican Party.
That’s Donald Trump — and in March 2023, the GOP is still Donald Trump’s show.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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