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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 March 2021

Donald Trump to give first speech since leaving the White House at US conservative summit

Former president expected to touch on future of Republican Party and reversal of his immigration policies by Joe Biden

Former US president Donald Trump has not made a public appearance since he left office on January 20. AP
Former US president Donald Trump has not made a public appearance since he left office on January 20. AP

Former US president Donald Trump will give a speech to a gathering of political conservatives at the end of the month.

It will be his first extended public address since leaving the White House on January 20.

Ian Walters, spokesman for the American Conservative Union, confirmed to the Associated Press that Mr Trump will be speaking at the group's annual Conservative Political Action Conference on February 28.

The CPAC is one of the country's largest annual gatherings of political conservatives.

Mr Trump will be "talking about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement", a source told AFP.

He is also expected to challenge the "disastrous amnesty and border policies" of his successor, President Joe Biden, the source said.

Mr Trump, who was impeached for a second time for his role in fomenting the January 6 assault on the US Capitol, remains a potent force in US politics.

Three quarters of Republicans want Mr Trump to play a prominent role in the party, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University this week.

Since reluctantly departing the White House on January 20 and ceding to Mr Biden – despite his constant but unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen – Mr Trump has largely kept to himself at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Stripped of his Twitter account, he called in to friendly cable TV news programmes last week after the death of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Mr Trump mused on far-right channel Newsmax about the possibility of a future political run.

"I won't say yet but we have tremendous support. And I'm looking at poll numbers that are through the roof," he said.

"Let's say somebody gets impeached, typically your numbers would go down, they would go down like a dead balloon. But the numbers are very good, they're very high."

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Trump's farewell

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In perhaps a preview of what might come at CPAC, Mr Trump issued a statement on Tuesday criticised top Republican senator Mitch McConnell, who delivered a scathing rebuke of the former president despite voting to acquit him of inciting an insurrection.

"The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political 'leaders' like Mitch McConnell at its helm," Mr Trump said.

"Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again."

Mr Biden, who is trying to steer the US through the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic crisis, has tried to avoid discussing Mr Trump, at one point calling him "the former guy".

Politicians from Mr Biden's Democratic Party announced legislation to create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, reversing Mr Trump's hardline policies.

Small numbers of asylum seekers, most of them Central Americans forced to wait in Mexico under Mr Trump's policies, have also begun crossing into the US as their cases are being processed.

Updated: February 21, 2021 09:40 PM

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