Former president Donald Trump has set his sight on the coveted office when he hinted at a possible run in 2024.
Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, Trump repeated his false claims that he had won the 2020 elections and criticised President Joe Biden.
In his first major appearance since leaving the office, he vowed to help Republicans regain majorities – lost during his presidency – in the House of Representatives and Senate in congressional elections next year and presented himself as a possibility for president in 2024.
“With your help, we will take back the House, we will win the Senate and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. I wonder who will that be?” he said, smiling. “Who, who, who will that be, I wonder.”
He expressed his anger at Republicans who voted to impeach or convict him for inciting a deadly attack on the Capitol on January 6.
He named several such Republicans, like Senators Mitt Romney and Pat Toomey and House lawmakers Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and suggested he would support candidates who opposed them in Republican primaries.
“Get rid of ‘em all,” he thundered.
Trump repeated lies he has told about presidential election loss to Biden, and offered a withering critique of his Democratic successor’s first weeks in office.
He said: “We have a very sick and corrupt electoral process that has to be fixed immediately. This election was rigged.”
The Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it, he added.
“They just lost the White House,” he said after criticising Biden’s handling of border security. “But who knows, who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time.”
There is turmoil within the Republican Party, with figures like Senator Mitch McConnell opposing Trump, and others, like Senator Lindsey Graham, believing the party’s future depends on the energy of the pro-Trump base.
Trump declared the Republican Party united behind him, with opposition coming only from “a handful of Washington, D.C., political hacks.” When he mentioned McConnell’s name, the crowd booed.
He said he had no plans to launch a third party, an idea he has discussed with advisers in the past couple of months.
“We’re not starting new parties. We have the Republican Party. It’s going to be united and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party,” he announced.
Meanwhile, in a straw poll, 55 percent of participants said they would vote for Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential nominating race.
The White House dismissed Trump’s speech.
“While the GOP casts about for a path forward, President Biden is going to remain laser-focused on crushing the virus, re-opening schools, and getting Americans back to work,” White House spokesman Michael Gwin said.