Former President Donald Trump will be the star attraction at the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference, starting Friday, to be held at the Hilton Anatole near downtown Dallas.
The so-called “America UnCanceled” conference is to be opened by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Trump’s state campaign co-chair, with a speech titled “Don’t mess with Texas … or America.”
Gov. Greg Abbott will be conspicuously absent in the event even as two primary rivals get spotlights: Allen West, who recently stepped down as Texas Republican Party chairman, and former state senator Don Huffines.
“We would of course love to have him here [but] he’s juggling a special session,” said American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, adding that Abbott was “totally welcome. … One of the reasons we’re coming to Texas, quite frankly, is because the leadership in Texas got the economy open early. And we think they should be rewarded.”
The governor “is focused on working with the Legislature to ensure a successful special session,” said Renae Eze, Abbott’s spokeswoman.
Donald Trump Jr., known to be a much fiery orator than his pugilistic father, is also slated to be a featured speaker at the CPAC.
The ACU is the organizer of the CPAC which started as an annual conference in 1974 wherein Ronald Reagan had delivered a keynote address. Since then this event has turned out to be a crucial stop for Republican White House aspirants.
Every year as many as 10,000 activists attend the event even though such a large gathering this year will not be possible because of the pandemic restrictions.
“We said, you know what, Texas is the other big mega red state,” Schlapp said, adding: “Florida and Texas have really become the base of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”
It is expected that about 4,000 people will be attending the CPAC in Dallas.
Trump is already casting a long shadow over the 2024 presidential candidature field and the only potential contender of note who would be attending the CAPC during the weekend is South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.