National Harbor, Maryland (EFE).- The US right on Thursday pumped itself up at its big annual convention, a “Woodstock”-like festival for the supporters of Donald Trump, according to some participants, where the ex-president was touted as the country’s great savior in the 2024 presidential election.
But the Conservative Political Action Conference (known as CPAC, pronounced “see-pack”), which is being held through Saturday at a convention center on the outskirts of Washington DC, this year is lacking any big music names and no other GOP presidential candidates – whether declared or potential – on its stage.
Trump, who governed the US from 2017-2021, will not participate in the event until the closing ceremony but he’s already ubiquitous. His MAGA (Make American Great Again) movement – or brand – is using the slogan he rode to victory in the 2016 election to sell t-shirts, stickers and caps, all of them in the red, white and blue of the US flag.
“This is a MAGA-fest. A MAGA Woodstock. … CPAC is Trump. … I want every Republican candidate in this country to rally around Trump,” Jonathan Riches told EFE.
It’s his fourth year at the annual event and, like many other attendees, he agrees that the ex-president “knows what’s best for the country.”
Trump never “turned his back” on Americans and the Americans are not going to do that to Trump, said Blake Marnell, a man dressed as a “wall,” his costume alluding to Trump’s much-touted, extremely controversial – and unfinished – wall along the US-Mexico border.
He said that, if one is objective about it, Trump has indeed lost a certain amount of support, but not the support of the broad masses of people.
The border situation, the coronavirus pandemic and the Chinese “spy” balloon shot down by the US military in early February dominate the panel discussions and the conversations of attendees, who hope that Trump will return to the White House to “fix” the country.
Trump is the real president of the US and Biden is an imposter, with no US adversaries – such as the Chinese Communist Party, Moscow’s secret service or the Iranian ayatollahs – treating him with respect because they know he’s illegitimate, Steve Bannon declared to EFE.
Trump’s controversial ex-advisor strolled through the convention hall on Thursday. The studio from which he is broadcasting his “War Room” podcast from the event has been a gathering place for supporters of all ages seeking selfies with him, his autograph or just wanting to simply say “hi” and perhaps exchange a few words with him.
Bannon is a key voice of the global ultra-right and last October, in one of his several run-ins with the courts, he was sentenced to four months in jail for refusing to cooperate with the legislative committee investigting the assault on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In Bannon’s opinion, Trump will win a huge victory in 2024 and “the sheriff will be back.” If Trump would have been in office, there would not have been 50,000 deaths in Ukraine, he said, asserting that there would be peace with Trump in charge and claiming that’s what will happen once he’s president again.
At this convention, the significance on the political stage of Trump’s potential adversaries in the GOP primaries is being downplayed, whether it be the country’s former United Nations ambassador during the Trump administration, Nikki Haley, who announced her presidential candidacy in February, or current Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not yet said he’s running but who’s clearly a figure on the rise and is being hailed as Trump’s biggest challenger for the GOP nomination.
“Trump really changed things,” emphasized Rebecca Graul, an anesthetist who traveled to CPAC from San Diego for whom President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have “sold out” the country and are acting for their own benefit and not that of the people.
“The Biden administration sucks,” said Sen. John Kennedy, and the aim of those present at the GOP event is for the “United States to be great again,” echoing the slogan Trump has always used.
We need to be a lighthouse for the rest of the world but its light is flickering at present and we have very little time left before it goes out entirely, said Allyse Wolf, adding that Trump will “relight that candle.”
She traveled from Texas and her t-shirt, along with those of her companions, spell the ex-president’s name, while the sequins on their jackets shimmer with the red, white and blue that is everywhere inside the convention hall.
“America Now” is one of the phrases positioned prominently on the main stage, on which – so far – hard-right lawmakers like Ted Cruz and Jim Jordan have appeared so far and on which on Saturday Trump himself and the man many have called “the Latin American Trump,” former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, will also stand.