Trump hints at 2024 run in first post-presidency speech

Photo: AP

Donald Trump returned to the spotlight on Sunday telling enthusiastic conservatives that he may run for president again in 2024, as he sought to reassert his dominance over a Republican Party that is out of power, AFP reported.

The 74-year-old addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando in a highly-anticipated keynote speech. But while he teased his future plans, he left the crowd guessing about whether he will challenge President Joe Biden in a rematch.

"Actually you know they just lost the White House," Trump said of Democrats, again promoting the falsehood that Trump was denied a second term because of election fraud. "But who knows -- who knows?" he boomed. "I may even decide to beat them for a third time, OK?"

Banned from Twitter and other social media, Trump has maintained a low profile at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida since he left the White House on 20 January.

At the CPAC event, he walked out on stage to revel in a lengthy standing ovation by cheering loyalists, the vast majority maskless despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"The incredible journey we began together... is far from being over," Trump said of his populist movement. "And in the end, we will win."

Trump also put to rest the rumors that he might take his base of support to create a new political party. "I am not starting a new party," Trump said. "We have the Republican Party. It's going to unite and be stronger than ever before."

Trump as expected took swipes at Biden, saying the Democrat just concluded "the most disastrous first month" of any modern president.

But he also painted America as a land divided. "Our security, our prosperity and our very identity as Americans is at stake," he said, in a rambling speech that attacked immigrants, slammed "cancel culture," and criticised Biden policies on climate change, energy, and election integrity.

In a straw poll conducted at the conference and released just before Trump's speech, nearly seven in 10 respondents said they want him to run again. On future direction for the party, support for Trumpism was rock solid, with 95% of respondents wanting to continue Trump's policies and agenda. But when asked who they prefer as the party's nominee in 2024, a moderate 55% chose Trump, with Florida Governor Ron De Santis, the de facto CPAC host, was a distant second with 21%.

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