Republican candidates covet the endorsement of former president Donald Trump -- but that backing comes with strings attached.
The defeated president has told several people he prefers candidates who never conceded that he lost the election to Joe Biden, two sources told The Daily Beast, but the Trump camp disputed the characterization.
"No official criteria has been set yet for endorsements from President Trump," said senior adviser Jason Miller.
But the sources said Trump has made clear in recent weeks that he won't back any GOP candidates who ever said he lost the 2020 election or that the former president was wrong to try and overturn the results.
Trump has been remarkably quiet since leaving the White House on Inauguration Day, two weeks after the deadly Jan. 6 riot that got him permanently banned from Twitter, but he plans to use this weekend's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference to reassert his dominance over the GOP.
The twice-impeached one-term president will again falsely declare that he won the election, according to two sources who've discussed the address with Trump, and to push for crackdowns and restricts -- packaged as "reforms" -- that Republicans should enact before the 2022 and 2024 elections.
Other speakers are expected to push the "big lie" about election fraud costing Trump re-election -- which 73 percent of his voters believe, according to a recent poll -- and include multiple individuals linked to efforts to overturn the election results or plan the "Stop The Steal" rally that led to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.
The annual conference will also give would-be Republican candidates a big stage to prove their loyalty to Trump by showing that election "fraud" is a top priority to them.