In his headlining remarks at the nation’s largest Republican conference, Donald Trump revived his baseless narrative that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” against him, a running theme across a weekend-long conference strategising for control of local governments and Congress as GOP lawmakers launch a nationwide voter suppression campaign.
The former president took the stage on the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas on 11 July, hours after appearing on Fox News to air his baseless conspiracy theory and downplaying his supporters’ attack on the US Capitol, fuelled by his election lies.
“We were doing so well until the rigged election came along,” Mr Trump said at CPAC.
The conference, once a high-profile stage to glimpse the state of the contemporary GOP, has become a clearinghouse for online-drive conspiracy theories, self-righteous delusions, and culture war grievances.
It also has attracted far-right militia, violent reactionaries and QAnon proponents, coalescing around their perceived persecution and “cancellation” from Democratic elected officials, conspiring with social media companies to “censor” them.
In a straw poll, attendees ranked as their biggest priorities “voter ID and election integrity” after Republican lawmakers in nearly every state filed dozens of restrictive voting bills under the guise of protective “voter confidence” undermined by Mr Trump’s own rhetoric, which called the outcome of the 2020 election a “hoax” before a single ballot was cast.
Panels at CPAC included “Detecting Threats to Election Integrity: How to Collect Evidence of Fraud” and “Spare the Fraud, Spoil the Child: The Future of American Elections.”
“There’s so much evidence,” Mr Trump said, without presenting any. “There’s bad things going on in this country. … It’s a disgrace to our nation, and we are truly being scorned and disrespected all over the world.”
After his company and its chief financial officer were indicted on a range of criminal charges following a years-long investigation for tax fraud, the former president told the CPAC crowd that “innocent Republicans are being prosecuted.”