WASHINGTON • Former United States president Donald Trump is likely to dangle the possibility of running again for president in 2024 in his first major post-White House speech this weekend, said the organiser of the conservative conference where he will speak.
Mr Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where Mr Trump will speak on Sunday, said he expected Mr Trump to outline an active role in Republican Party politics at the four-day event in Orlando, Florida.
"I'm not sure what he's going to say about 2024, but I'm pretty confident he's going to make it clear that it's a very viable possibility," Mr Schlapp said on Monday.
A representative for Mr Trump declined to comment on what the former president might say at the event. Mr Trump has previously said he would consider running for president again.
He has signalled that he intends to play a role in the 2022 mid-term elections - which will determine if Democrats keep control of Congress - by supporting primary challengers to congressional Republicans who voted to impeach or convict him on a charge of inciting his supporters' deadly Jan 6 assault on the US Capitol.
But talk of another White House run could have the effect of freezing the Republican field at a time when White House aspirants would be quietly gathering supporters. Other potential 2024 Republican candidates include former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, both of whom will also be attending the CPAC.
Mr Trump spent two months after losing the Nov 3 election to Democratic President Joe Biden falsely claiming that his defeat was the result of widespread fraud, a campaign that ended in the Jan 6 riot and turned some senior Republicans against him.
Establishment party leaders, including top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, would like to put Mr Trump in the rear-view mirror while his supporters believe the energy he generates in the conservative base can help propel Republicans to victory in the 2022 mid-term elections.
"Donald Trump is going to stay in the game and will be involved in primaries, and he's going to opine and he's going to give speeches, and for establishment Republicans, it puts shivers down their spine. They're very concerned he's going to continue to have an impact. My advice to them is to get used to it," Mr Schlapp said.
He added that Trump administration vice-president Mike Pence declined an invitation to speak at the CPAC this year. Mr Pence has harboured presidential aspirations.
"He's going to take a little bit of time before he starts making public comments," Mr Schlapp said of Mr Pence.