‘I’m disgusted’: CPAC trolled with billboards by anti-Trump Republican group

Campaign group is one of several trying to rally Republicans against the 45th president and his followers

Andrew Naughtie
Friday 25 February 2022 20:02 GMT
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As the Republican Party and right-wing figures gather for this year’s CPAC conference in Orlando, Florida, a campaign group of anti-Trump Republicans has mounted a billboard campaign around the city calling attention to the state of the party.

The Republican Accountability Project, which was started during the Trump presidency and ran pro-Biden ads during the 2020 election, has erected ads featuring everyday “former Republicans” expressing their displeasure with the former president and the party he still all but dominates.

“I was a lifelong Republican,” says Frank, from Georgia. “But now – I’m out.” Steve of Wisconsin has a similar story: “I left the GOP. It needs to be about more than just Trump.”

Others are more philosophical: “I have conservative values. Trump’s GOP does not” (Paul, New Jersey); “I’m a Cheney conservative. Not a Trump Republican” (Daniel, Washington); “I don’t recognize today’s GOP. Reagan wouldn’t either” (Nancy, Colorado).

The CPAC event with which the billboards coincide will feature the former president himself on Saturday. He will speak at the end of a week that’s seen him condemned for statements flattering Vladimir Putin as “savvy” and a “genius” even as he invades Ukraine in Europe’s most ominous conflict in decades.

Yet while Mr Trump has failed to condemn Mr Putin and even as he faces multiple legal threats – with cases including allegations of rape, fraud and illegal mishandling of White House records – he remains the dominant force in today’s GOP, and the CPAC agenda does not feature anyone likely to turn against him in public.

The event is, however, being held in Florida, whose governor, Ron DeSantis, has become the likeliest 2024 presidential contender besides the former president himself. There has even been speculation that if Mr Trump damages himself or the party too much in the next two years, Mr DeSantis could even challenge him directly.

When he spoke at CPAC on Thursday, Mr DeSantis was given a slot before the event had gotten fully underway, meaning he addressed a partly empty room.

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