Former US President Donald Trump will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Feb 28, according to a source familiar with the matter, while former Vice President Mike Pence declined an invitation to speak at the conference.
One source said that the organisers still hope to change Pence’s mind about attending, while another source said that Pence is planning to stay under the radar for the next six months, the CNN reported.
The divergence between the two former leaders, which comes as the GOP is grappling with its future in the wake of the Trump presidency, follows tensions between Trump and Pence surrounding the January 6 riot at the US Capitol and Pence’s role certifying the results of the election for President Joe Biden.
“We accept Joe Biden is the duly elected President of the US,” Marc Short, former chief of staff to Pence, said.
“Despite Pence playing a role in perpetuating baseless election fraud theories that Trump repeatedly pushed ahead of the attack on the Capitol,” he added.
Unlike Trump, Pence attended Biden’s inauguration in Washington, DC, last month — after skipping Trump’s farewell ceremony.
Short said on Saturday that Trump and Pence “departed amicably” and that they’ve spoken since.
The source familiar with Trump’s plans to attend CPAC, who is also familiar with the former President’s speech, said that “he’ll be talking about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”
“Also look for the 45th President to take on President Biden’s disastrous amnesty and border policies,” the source added.
The speaking engagement would mark Trump’s first public appearance following his departure from the White House last month and comes as senior Republicans are split over how to treat the former President, with his loyalists paying him visits recently in Florida.
One of Trump’s campaign managers, Brad Parscale, met with the former President at his club in Mar-a-Lago this week for a lengthy meeting, according to a source familiar. Utah Sen. Mike Lee is holding a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago Saturday night, according to another source familiar, a potential sign of more visits to come.