Rollins’s political action group grew out of Trump’s 2016 operation, but it has not committed to supporting him in any future race. With his eye toward unifying the party ahead of the 2022 midterms, Rollins said that Trump would be wise to focus on assuaging the concerns of moderate Republicans. But he added that this probably wasn’t the venue for that.
“If he wants to be the leader of this party and continue to be, he has to make peace with Republicans of all varieties,” Rollins said. “I think he’ll get in front of that crowd, and no matter how carefully scripted they have him going in there, he’s going to basically do his own thing — as he has numerous times in the past.”
There are some conspicuous absences from the list of CPAC invitees, reflecting the current divide in the party. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the chamber, who has been open about his desire to leave Trump in the dust, was not invited. Mike Pence, whose term as vice president ended acrimoniously, as he refused to support Trump’s 11th-hour power grab, leading Trump’s supporters to threaten Pence’s life as they stormed the Capitol, declined an invitation to speak. And Nikki Haley, once a rising force in the party, will not be there either — after she gave a withering interview to Politico blasting Trump and saying that he had no future in G.O.P. politics.
A poll released Sunday by Suffolk University and USA Today found that three in every five voters who backed Trump last year said they would like to see him run again next time. Just 29 percent said he shouldn’t try again.
If there’s going to be a splintering of the party’s more socially moderate, corporate-minded wing and its increasingly working-class base, the numbers so far favor the base. According to the Suffolk/USA Today survey, voters who backed Trump last year said by a 20-point margin that they felt more loyalty to him than to the Republican Party.
Forty-six percent said they would follow Trump to a new party if he broke away from the G.O.P. And 27 percent said they hadn’t made up their minds on it yet.
(The poll’s sample included any respondents who had indicated in a Suffolk survey at some point in 2020 that they would vote for Trump, and had said they were willing to be called back after the election. Ninety percent of respondents to this poll indicated that they had, in fact, cast a ballot for him in November.)