CPAC 2021 – live: Gold Trump statue unveiled as Republican summit branded ‘Woodstock for election liars’

Related video: Mitt Romney predicts Trump will win if he seeks Republican nomination in 2024

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is underway in Orlando, Florida, with a gold statue of ousted president Donald Trump raising eyebrows ahead of his headline speech on Sunday, his first public engagement since leaving the White House for Mar-a-Lago a month ago.

Mr Trump is widely expected to announce a 2024 presidential run during his address to the four-day gathering – described as “Woodstock for election liars” by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper – a prospect dismissed by his White House successor Joe Biden, who has said he will not be paying attention.

This year’s event is themed “America Uncancelled” but one former Trump ally, ex-UN ambassador Nikki Haley, seems herself to have been cancelled by conservatives after being excluded from its confirmed speakers list. The Republican Party is currently mired in internal conflict following the US Capitol riot and Mr Trump’s second impeachment, with pro-Trump loyalists and establishment moderates locked in a feud that could determine its future.

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Biden calls Saudi king ahead of intelligence officials releasing report on murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Of more general note to the world outside the fevered atmosphere of the Hyatt Regency, President Biden took his first call with King Salman on Thursday, snubbing the monarch’s all-powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and raising human rights issues and the assassination of the Washington Post journalist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, a matter his predecesssor in the Oval Office expressed little interest in.

Alex Woodward reports.

Joe Sommerlad26 February 2021 12:00

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‘Donald Trump is the god-king of Crazy Town’

“Asking Conservative Political Action Conference attendees for their views on conservatism is like asking arsonists to lecture on fire safety,” says Michael Gerson in a scorching editorial for The Washington Post in which he argues there’s nothing “conservative” about the right-wing populism being touted at CPAC.

This, on the lessons the audience in Orlando are being presented with by the modern GOP, deserves to be heard:

“From the attendance of eager presidential hopefuls such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, they will learn that exclusion, deception and the maximisation of white grievance are the future of the GOP, and that encouraging sedition is not a shameful disqualification for the Oval Office.

“From Trump’s deification they will learn that civility is for losers, that compassion is for suckers, that misogyny can be fun, that strength requires brutality and that racism makes for good politics. They will learn that deadly incompetence, based on lies and lunacy and costing countless lives, means nothing. They will learn that the Constitution can be shredded in the pursuit of raw power and that populism must be rowdy enough and transgressive enough to break a few windows and kill a few policemen.”

Joe Sommerlad26 February 2021 11:30

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Fox’s Stuart Varney: ‘CPAC will determine the future of the Republican Party’

Here’s how the president’s on-off favourite broadcaster is hyping the conference.

Joe Sommerlad26 February 2021 11:00

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Friday’s CPAC speaking schedule

Here’s today’s roster from Orlando, the day beginning with Florida’s governor, taking in election lie-endorsers Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Mo Brooks and the Sunshine State’s former attorney general Pam Bondi, who represented Trump at his first impeachment, and ending with the ex-president’s son, a MAGA fan favourite.

That list in full:

Ron DeSantis, Mike Lee, Scott Walker, James Lankford, Pam Bondi, Ted Cruz, Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn, Matt Gaetz, Rick Scott, Josh Hawley, Donald Trump Jr

Joe Sommerlad26 February 2021 10:30

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The Daily Show savages CPAC

This is inspired from Trevor Noah and his team.

Joe Sommerlad26 February 2021 10:00

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Only 60-70% of CPAC attendees wearing Covid masks, reporter says

This is an alarming observation from Bloomberg journalist William Turton on the scene in Orlando.

Joe Sommerlad26 February 2021 09:30

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Anderson Cooper calls CPAC: ‘Woodstock for election liars’

Bravo that man.

Joe Sommerlad26 February 2021 09:00

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US orders airstrike in Syria against Iran-backed militia, reports say

Good morning!

The big American political news overnight was the Biden administration launching an airstrike against Iran-back militants in Syria, a decision likely to put the cat among the pigeons at CPAC.

Pentagon officials said the action was undertaken in response to an attack in Iraq that killed a civilian contractor and wounded a US service member and other coalition troops.

Graeme Massie has the latest.

Joe Sommerlad26 February 2021 08:30

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Golden Trump statue spotted at CPAC

Perhaps summing up this year’s vibes at CPAC, a Bloomberg reporter has shared footage showing staff at the annual conservative conference wheeling a golden statue of Donald Trump across the conference floor.

“That’s so cool,” one attendee can be heard saying, while someone chants “Four more years!” – a jokey reference to a popular chant by Trump supporters when he was still president.

Mr Trump is due to give his first post-White House speech at CPAC on Sunday.

Tom Embury-Dennis26 February 2021 07:54

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‘Absolutely’: Clip shows McConnell revealing he would back Trump as 2025 GOP nominee

Here’s the clip in which Mitch McConnell, the most powerful elected Republican in the country, says he would “absolutely” support Donald Trump were he to receive the Republican presidential nomination for 2024.

It comes despite Mr McConnell’s public condemnation of the president over his role in inciting the Capitol insurrection last month – an incident the Senate minority leader suggested Mr Trump could be criminally investigated over.

It appears to be quite an about turn by Mr McConnell, who is likely to be watching closely when the former president delivers his first post-White House speech on Sunday at CPAC.

Tom Embury-Dennis26 February 2021 07:23

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