Scenes from CPAC 2023

Despite the emerging field of Republican presidential candidates willing to take on former President Donald Trump, this year’s CPAC was more unabashedly MAGA than ever.

At the multi-day conference held just outside Washington, D.C., there were few signs the crowd wanted anyone but Trump in 2024. Many attendees wore coordinated T-R-U-M-P t-shirts. Vendors sold Trump bobbleheads and stuffed animals wearing MAGA hats. Guests posed for pictures in a mock Trump Oval Office.

The annual CPAC confab showcases stars in the conservative movement, prominent Republican lawmakers, the up-and-coming of the GOP and grassroots activists eager to hear about the latest priorities on the right.

But now CPAC has become the Trump show, and few Republicans here tried to diminish Trump’s star. Many potential 2024 candidates skipped the weekend entirely.

Introduced as “the next president of the United States,” Trump dished red meat to an adoring audience that leapt to their feet when he walked out on the main stage.

“We will finish what we started,” Trump told the audience. “We will cross the finish line. We will dismantle the Deep State. We will demolish woke tyranny and we will restore the American republic to all its radiant glory.”

Ronald Solomon sold merchandise at his stand, The MAGA Mall, where there were plenty of pro-Trump items to choose from.Attendees took selfies with some of their favorite special guests, among them Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).The annual conference once welcomed Republicans of all stripes, but this year it was clearly steeped in MAGA.Secret Service agents arrived on March 4, many hours before Trump was set to speak.Vivek Ramaswamy, the “anti-woke” biotech entrepreneur and 2024 presidential candidate, called for “unity” — and shutting down the FBI.Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) attended multiple days, speaking with the likes of Newsmax correspondent Kilmeny Duchardt and Donald Trump Jr.Rapper Forgiato Blow, a true Trump fanatic, revealed a tattoo of of the former president's face on his leg.The crowds were noticeably smaller at CPAC 2023, with speakers in the main ballroom often addressing many empty seats.The MAGA movement showed up sporting red hats and buttons with Trump’s face.Former White House policy advisor Robert Bowes took a seat in a replica of the Trump Oval Office.A signed photograph of Donald Trump, Jr. and a painting of Jesus Christ stood side-by-side in one of the halls.Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon (left) and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell were big hits among the attendees.As people walked through the halls on March 4, the crowds grew in anticipation of Trump's appearance.For some attendees, like Todd Tibbetts (shown above), being MAGA wasn't enough.Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (left) has already jumped into the 2024 race, while former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) remains undecided. But Trump (bottom) is still the star of the GOP, if CPAC is any indication.Trump took in the moment as he received raucous applause during his speech, the final event of the weekend. Source

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