GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who was scheduled to speak on Saturday morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), announced today that he will not be attending and will instead be campaigning in Kansas and Florida.
The campaign issued the following statement on the withdrawal from CPAC:
The Donald J. Trump for President Campaign has just announced it will be in Wichita, Kansas for a major rally on Saturday, prior to the Caucus. Mr. Trump will also be speaking at the Kansas Caucus and then departing for Orlando, Florida to speak to a crowd of approximately 20,000 people or more. Because of this, he will not be able to speak at CPAC, as he has done for many consecutive years. Mr. Trump would like to thank Matt Schlapp and all of the executives at CPAC and looks forward to returning to next year, hopefully as President of the United States.
CPAC tweeted that they were disappointed in Trump’s decision:
— CPAC (@CPAC) March 4, 2016
According to National Review, efforts were underway to organize a walkout during Trump’s speech, which may have led to Trump’s decision.
Trump’s appearance had split attendees who weren’t convinced that Trump is a conservative and won’t betray them should he win the GOP nomination and the presidency. Yet despite the Trump haters, there were plenty of attendees who were disappointed that Trump wouldn’t be speaking, depriving them of a chance to hear from the potential Republican nominee in person.
While I personally am not a Trump fan, I didn’t have a problem with him speaking at CPAC—after all, he’s spoken at the conference before. But I do think it’s a strategic mistake for him to bow out and not face his critics, plus there was no guarantee that the walkout threat was real.
Trump has an uneasy relationship with conservatives, and this move certainly won’t help.