CPAC in Orlando begins with opening remarks from Governor DeSantis

ORLANDO, Fla. — Right now, the biggest political convention in the country is underway in Orlando.

The Conservative Political Action Conference started Friday with opening remarks from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It’ll end Sunday with a speech from former President Donald Trump.

READ: CPAC in Orlando prepares for Trump’s return speech, future of the Republican party

DeSantis wrapped his introductory remarks with a message to the conservatives in attendance.

“When you engage in the battles ahead, hold the line. Stand your ground. Don’t ever back down.”

For the governor, who worked to bring the gathering to the state, opening the convention raises his national profile, putting him on the same stage as names like Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Rick Scott, all potential 2024 presidential candidates.

READ: Trump to speak at CPAC in Orlando, first public appearance since leaving office

The conference is also a time to establish key issues for the party’s base.

There are two emerging themes for CPAC in 2021: first, the fight against social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

In what they’re calling “America Uncanceled,” speakers criticized the companies for removing content and users over shared content.

READ: Gov. DeSantis vows to take on “Big Tech” censorship

The second issue: the 2020 election.

CPAC this year features seven panels on voter fraud and elections, with a call to crack down on vote-by-mail, something conference attendees say tipped the election in November.

When former President Trump appears as the closing speaker Sunday, it’ll be his first public speech since leaving the White House on January 20.

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