'MAGA carnival' CPAC descending into 'irrelevance' amid scandal and stagnation: analysis
Matt Schlapp / Gage Skidmore

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is sliding into "irrelevance" as the gathering continues to build itself around former President Donald Trump, and as the fallout grows over the leadership scandal, wrote David Siders for POLITICO on Friday.

The events on display at the nation's "MAGA carnival" in National Harbor, Maryland exemplify the decline, he wrote.

"Today, amid the Trump-related merch and art, Donald Trump Jr. caused a stir when he told attendees to look for gold-wrapped chocolate bars under their seats for the chance to win a VIP ticket to a reception with his father on Saturday," wrote Siders. "As my colleague Meridith McGraw reported exclusively today, the plan includes investments in vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles, 'baby bonuses' and 'hives of industry' free from Chinese imports. There’s no small chance Trump’s audience tomorrow will be cheering procreation and made-to-order places to live."

Some declared and potential presidential candidates chose to steer clear, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But others attended, like former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who was greeted by a crowd chanting for Trump instead.

"And then there’s Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotech entrepreneur who, like Trump, is running for president in 2024," noted the report.

"My colleague Natalie Allison posted a photograph on Twitter from one of his aides of his handwritten speech (it’s really worth a look). He plans, she wrote, to call for the FBI to be shut down."

All of this is occurring against the backdrop of CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp facing allegations of sexual assault against a male GOP Senate staffer — allegations he vehemently denies, but that have resulted in other people coming forward with claims of a hostile work environment.

"It’s about as Trump-y a show as you’ll find anywhere in the GOP, and whatever happens in the straw poll on Saturday should be taken with a bucket load of salt," concluded Siders. "But you can’t ignore it, either. Trump is still the frontrunner to win the party’s nomination in 2024. And if anyone is going to knock him off, eventually they’re going to need to cut into his margins with the energetic grassroots activists who go to events like CPAC — a not entirely unfaithful representation of the base of the GOP."

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