ORLANDO, Fla. — The annual gathering known as CPAC kicked off on Friday in Orlando with Gov. Ron DeSantis taking the main stage.
It ended on Sunday with former President Donald Trump addressing the crowd.
Through three days of speeches and panels one thing remains clear: this is still Donald Trump’s party.
“Matt Gaetz says it all the time, this is the Republican Party of Donald Trump,” said Republican Party of Florida Vice Chairman Christian Ziegler. “This is really his Republican Party and he is certainly in the driver seat as we go forward.”
It is perhaps unsurprising that in its straw poll 55% of CPAC respondents back Donald Trump as the Republican nominee in 2024. However, it was Ron DeSantis coming in second with 21% and finishing first in a separate poll that asked attendees who they would back if Donald Trump does not run again.
“Ron DeSantis is a rock star and the best thing you can do in politics is do a good job when you’re in office,” said Ziegler. “Anyone who has paid attention or seen what’s going on in Florida and the people that are moving here on a daily basis, the reason why they’re moving here is because it’s not just the beautiful sunshine we have, it’s what we’re doing here and there is a total difference between Ron DeSantis and some of these other states.”