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CPAC: Trump Drops Out at 'Last Minute'


By    |   Friday, 04 March 2016 01:08 PM

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) announced on its official Twitter feed Friday that Donald Trump has dropped out of the annual event underway outside of Washington, D.C.

Trump had been scheduled to speak at the annual event, hosted by the American Conservative Union, early Saturday morning, but instead will be in Wichita, Kansas, for a campaign rally and the Kansas caucuses before heading to Orlando, Florida, later in the evening. NBC's Chuck Todd reported Friday afternoon, saying that the switch is understandable.

"CPAC this year, its timing right now in the middle of all this, I understand why presidential candidates are going, 'you know what, I'm going to try to fit it in, but rallies are going to take precedent,'" Todd said on MSNBC. "It would have been weird if he wasn't doing anything else other than that. But to do what he's doing, it makes perfect sense to me."

Trump's campaign, though, said that he hopes to return to CPAC next year, "hopefully as president of the United States," reports Politico.

Trump had been scheduled to speak at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, a time that brought backlash from conservatives who had accused CPAC organizers of being behind Trump. On Wednesday, Politico reported Trump donated $50,000 to the ACU in 2015, and has given more than $100,000 to the conservative organization.

But Trump's speech was also meeting with opposition that included a planned walkout, National Review reported Thursday. A CPAC attendee, known for wearing a tricorn hat and leading a walkout on Jeb Bush in 2015, told the publication that there were already more than "300 people who are going to get up at one time to go to the bathroom. We're not going to put up with him. He reminds me of Mussolini — he was quoting Mussolini the other day and didn't even know it."

ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show earlier Friday that conservatives are arriving from across the country at a time that is a "critical moment for the conservative movement, a critical moment for the nation."

He also admitted that he's "more concerned now" than at any point since he's been involved in politics because of the divisions in the Republican Party.

"One of the things that's going to happen at CPAC is we will air all these differences," said Schlapp. "We will have a straw poll. We had a debate yesterday about gay marriage and the future of religious freedom, we will have a debate today about immigration, should we do something big or should we go back to building a wall and enforcing our laws? Conservatives have a lot of disagreements, we're going to air those disagreements."

Schlapp said he does have faith in uniting the party after candidates Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich, saying they would support Trump should he become the presidential nominee.

"I think that's the critical step here for conservatives and for Republicans," said Schlapp. "As painful as Donald Trump might be for some, as painful as Ted Cruz might be for others, whoever gets out of this nominating process if they can all pull together and support the winner and the people in this room can, too, I think we have a fighting shot against what looks to be Hillary Clinton."

But, he continued that he is not trying to "sugarcoat" the internal battle going on in the party concerning Trump, and the fact that party elders like Mitt Romney and John McCain speak poorly of him.

"This is absolutely happening. There are tons of fissures out there and we have to pull it together," said Schlapp. "We will be a whole different movement and we are not going to win elections. When you see these party elders coming out, I think it's interesting a realignment on the right with the Republican Party. They don't want to listen to people like Mitt Romney. He is a good man, a respected figure, but they don't want to listen to him on who they should vote for."

Romney on Thursday, when speaking out against Trump, was "sending the message to all of his fellow billionaires, to all of those big financiers who supported his race write checks. It's time to get engaged, it's time to stop Donald Trump," said Schlapp.

Further, there is an "increased kind of separation" in some of the voices that Trump could win the nomination, Schlapp said, but they may be pushing Trump even further.

Meanwhile, of the remaining Trump rivals, Kasich, Cruz, and Ben Carson are to speak on Friday, with Rubio to speak on Saturday.

While Carson opted out of the Fox News debate on Thursday night, he has not yet officially withdrawn from the race, leading pundits on Friday to speculate that the retired neurosurgeon will formally announce his decision in his CPAC speech. 

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The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) announced on its official Twitter feed Friday that Donald Trump has dropped out of the annual event underway outside of Washington, D.C.
trump, drop, cpac, appearance
Friday, 04 March 2016 01:08 PM
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