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Politics Kevin McCarthy’s CPAC panel shows how the GOP has devolved into a Trump personality cult

00:40  28 february  2021
00:40  28 february  2021 Source:   vox.com

CPAC or Trump-PAC? Conservative conference delegates stick with Donald Trump

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In an expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy while the US Capitol was under attack, then-President Donald Trump said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters that former President Donald Trump has not promised to refrain from challenging sitting Republican members of Congress during future election cycles. © Drew Angerer/Getty House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on February 26, 2021 in Washington, D.C. According to McCarthy , former President Donald Trump is working with him on endorsements to win House seats for Republicans, but Trump has not promised to avoid supporting challengers of GOP incumbents.

If you watched House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Saturday panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after spending four months in a coma, you’d not only think that there was no January 6 insurrection aimed at overthrowing former President Donald Trump’s election loss, but that Trump actually won a second term.

Kevin McCarthy et al. on a stage in front of a television screen: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks at CPAC on Saturday. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks at CPAC on Saturday.

McCarthy’s remarks in particular — and CPAC 2021 in general — illustrate how whatever second thoughts the Republican establishment had about Trump following the insurrection have fallen by the wayside. And they were a reminder that although Trump did lose reelection, he remains a popular, and therefore powerful, figure in the Republican Party.

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Trump remains angry at McCarthy for his support of Rep Liz Cheney. Cheney voted to impeach but remains the number two House Republican. McCarthy has tried to appease Trump , including with trip to Mar-a-Lago. Donald Trump is reportedly considering lashing out at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in anger over GOP defections in his second impeachment. Trump , who will address CPAC in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, is still stewing over McCarthy ' s decision to keep Rep.

The organization has devolved from skepticism toward government to veneration of politicians. Since then, however, the Arizona GOP has undergone a strange transformation. It took a distinctly nativist and nationalist turn, best exemplified by Joe Arpaio, who held the office of Maricopa County sheriff for 24 years. Where Goldwater promoted a Bracero-type temporary worker program to make illegal border crossings less tempting, and Steiger accused the Immigration and Naturalization Service of exaggerating illegal immigration in order to pad its budget requests, Arpaio made border

McCarthy didn’t make the former president the focus of his remarks, but was quick to praise Trump early during his event, crediting the former president for Republicans picking up seats in the House of Representatives following last November’s election.

“President Trump worked on all these races,” McCarthy said, later adding, “Even when President Trump was sick with Covid ... he would do these rallies over the phone for each district, and he would have the candidate on and then he would talk, and he would turn out the votes.”

“Listen — we’re gonna continue to do exactly what we did in the last election,” McCarthy said at another point.

CPAC Highlights Trump's Influence Over GOP Amid Party's Civil War: 'He Owns That Crowd'

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McCarthy criticized Trump right after the Jan. 6 attack, but softened his tone in the weeks thereafter. He even met with the ex-president late last month at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., to discuss strategy for the 2022 congressional elections. Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House, was one of ten GOP members to vote to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 incident. Trump and allies have vowed to retaliate by supporting primary challengers to those ten House Republicans, particularly Cheney.

A number of Republican lawmakers have reportedly claimed to be unable to attend votes due to the COVID-19 pandemic — even though they're able to appear in person at CPAC . Several allies of former President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives have "skipped Friday' s votes and enlisted their colleagues to vote on their behalf," signing letters declaring they can't themselves attend due to "ongoing public health emergency," yet at the same time, they're expected to speak at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, CNN reported on.

The rest of CPAC has been similar in tone. In fact, despite President Joe Biden’s decisive popular vote and Electoral College victory over Trump — and Trump’s shameful efforts to overthrow the election during the transition period to a new administration — CPAC 2021 has served as a cultish celebration of the former president. None of the few remaining prominent anti-Trump Republicans were invited to speak, and no criticism of the former president has been brooked.

Along these lines, perhaps the most revealing remark during McCarthy’s panel discussion came from Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who, like many of his Republican colleagues, skipped the vote on the Covid-19 relief bill so he could appear at CPAC.

“The most popular Republican figure in Congress today is Kevin McCarthy,” Banks said. “Let me tell you who the least popular Republicans in the party are today — they are those very few Republicans who want to erase Donald Trump and Donald Trump supporters from our party.”

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump on Friday as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP , as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House.

GOP officials disagree intensely over the party' s future. But no sign of debate will be visible when conservatives gather this weekend for CPAC ' s festival of Trump . But no sign of dissent will be visible this weekend when conservatives gather for an annual conference that has long showcased Republicans' internal debates. Instead, one theme will rule them all — fealty to Trump . The former president plans to use Sunday, the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference , for his first public speech since leaving the White House just over a month ago.

Banks’s observations about anti-Trump Republicans may be technically true, but what he didn’t mention is that Trump has dragged down the popularity of all GOP officials. A recent Forbes piece by Andrew Solender explains:

Republicans have the lowest ratings [of national politicians], with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy down by 20 points, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) down by 30 points and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suffering a staggering deficit of 44 points, with just 17% favorability and 61% unfavorability.

Nonetheless, there’s a political calculus in McCarthy’s decision to stand behind Trump, even after he criticized him in the days following the insurrection.

Trump may not be popular in general, but he remains overwhelmingly popular with the GOP base — a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found 79 percent of Republicans viewed Trump favorably, while McCarthy received just 34 percent support among Republicans. And a recent USA Today/Suffolk University study found 46 percent of Republicans said they would leave the GOP should Trump start his own political party.

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It is Trump who can decide the fate of the GOP, and of individual lawmakers, and he has made it clear in the past that he values those lawmakers who are loyal to him. But there are also indications that the level of loyalty McCarthy has shown thus far, as fawning as it may be, may not be enough for Trump.

Trump is reportedly thinking about denouncing McCarthy during his CPAC speech on Sunday

McCarthy initially had some doubts about Trump.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, for instance, he was recorded saying he believed Trump was literally on Vladimir Putin’s payroll. But during Trump’s tenure as president, McCarthy — who served as House Majority Leader until Republicans lost the majority in the 2018 midterms, then became House Minority Leader — emerged as one of Trump’s staunchest congressional defenders.

McCarthy concocted far-fetched arguments to defend Trump during his first impeachment, including that there is a precedent against impeaching presidents in their first term, and went as far as to patronize and promote Trump’s private business. He echoed Trump’s lies about the FBI investigation into his relationship with Russia being tantamount to “a modern-day coup” and, while sitting next to Donald Trump Jr. at last year’s CPAC, farcically cited Wikipedia edits as evidence that big tech companies are biased against Republicans.

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Even after Trump lost the election last November, McCarthy went on Fox News and held up his disastrous coronavirus response as an example of “remarkable” governance. He defended a recorded phone call of Trump trying to bully the Georgia secretary of state into throwing out his loss there as evidence that he’s “always been concerned about the integrity of the election.”

For a brief moment after the deadly January 6 insurrection Trump encouraged, however, McCarthy’s tune changed a bit. While McCarthy joined 146 other Republicans in voting to overthrow the election results, on January 13 he gave a speech on the House floor saying Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress.”

But as it became clear that the Republican base was sticking with Trump, McCarthy quickly fell back in line. Just eight days after he said Trump “bears responsibility” for the insurrection, McCarthy said basically the exact opposite thing during a news conference.

“I don’t believe he provoked it,” McCarthy said, referring to the January 6 insurrection.

Members of the media slam Trump as 'lying a lot' during CPAC speech as supporters erupt with applause for former president

  Members of the media slam Trump as 'lying a lot' during CPAC speech as supporters erupt with applause for former president Members of the media slammed former President Donald Trump on social media during his Conservative Political Action Conference address, describing the speech as riddled with lies over the 2020 election results. © Provided by Washington Examiner "The former president is lying a lot," CNN reporter Daniel Dale tweeted. The former president is lying a lot.— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 28, 2021 "Our election process is worse than that in many cases of the third-world country, you know that, you saw what was going on," Trump said during his speech of the election.

But that remarkable flip-flop apparently wasn’t enough to keep McCarthy in Trump’s good graces. Trump is now reportedly steamed that McCarthy stood by House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) even after Cheney voted for Trump’s second impeachment.

The GOP split between the large MAGA faction McCarthy represents and the much smaller anti-Trump faction led by Cheney was illustrated in a scene on Wednesday, when, during a news conference, McCarthy told a reporter that he thinks Trump should be speaking at CPAC. He was immediately contradicted by Cheney, who was standing behind him and said, “I don’t believe [Trump] should be playing a role in the future of the party.”

“On that high note, thank you all very much,” McCarthy quipped, before walking away from reporters.

Trump is reportedly bothered that instead of purging Cheney from the party, McCarthy supported her in retaining her leadership position in the House Republican caucus — leading to awkward scenes like the one from Wednesday. Tara Palmeri provided the full context in the Saturday installment of Politico Playbook:

Three people close to Trump tell me that he’s stewing anew over KEVIN MCCARTHY. It’s become so frequent that his advisers think the House minority leader may be in for a public reprimand. That’s even after the powwow at Mar-a-Lago where McCarthy tried to patch things up after he denounced Trump for the violence on Jan. 6.

The reason for Trump’s displeasure: an emboldened Cheney.

Each time Cheney criticizes Trump from her leadership post as the No. 3 House Republican, he’s reminded that it was McCarthy who pleaded with his conference to keep her on as chair — despite her vote to impeach Trump. The latest trigger came Wednesday, when Cheney said at a press conference that Trump should not lead the party going forward while McCarthy awkwardly stood by.

McCarthy in particular, and CPAC speakers in general, have sided against Cheney in this dispute. On Friday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) claimed during his speech that Cheney would be booed if she showed up at CPAC, and he’s not wrong. But that Trump is even considering publicly castigating McCarthy just because he won’t work to purge the handful of House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment reflects the extent to which the party has devolved into a personality cult — one that’s endured even after the leader was defeated.

Trump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars .
This year’s CPAC is shaping up to be a massive Trump rally.Since Election Day 2020, Trump has been a combination of public relations disaster alienating the national electorate and highly effective political maneuvering intensifying his support from his large base - and thoroughly intimidating the Republican leaders in the House and Senate.

usr: 1
This is interesting!