ORLANDO, Florida – A pair of influential House Republicans took advantage of a Conservative political gathering on Saturday to praise former President Donald J. Trump and subtly and directly express their G.O.P. Colleagues who distanced themselves from Mr. Trump after the Capitol uprising last month.
Kevin McCarthy, the minority chairman of the House of Representatives who blamed the former president for his role in the attack and at one point considered asking him to resign, credited Mr. Trump at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference for telling Republicans for their surprise wins in the House of Representatives helped last year.
“Do you know why we won this?” From the 14 seats, Mr. McCarthy asked the G.O.P. claimed in 2020. “President Trump worked on all of these races.” He also recalled how Mr. Trump, even if he was in quarantine after his coronavirus diagnosis, would “hold telephone rallies” for each district.
The Top House Republican sat on the stage next to Indiana representative Jim Banks, an aspiring Conservative leader, who answered a question aimed at minimizing the party’s internal rifts by drawing attention to them.
Mr. Banks highlighted Mr. McCarthy’s popularity before specifically pointing out that “the least popular” Republicans of Congress “are the ones who want to remove the supporters of Donald Trump and Donald Trump from our party”.
In that case, he continued, “We are not going to win back the majority in 2022 – we are definitely not going to win back the White House in 2024.”
None of the lawmakers mentioned Representative Liz Cheney, the third-tier Republican in the House. But her unsolicited rhetorical embrace of the former president has shown how little appetite there is among Ms. Cheney’s colleagues to cut ties with Mr Trump, as she has called for.
In fact, Mr. McCarthy’s appearance with Mr. Banks was something of a setback for Ms. Cheney, who earlier this week affirmed her hope that just moments after Mr. McCarthy said the former, Republicans would move on from Mr. Trump to President should attend this conference.
The Indiana Republican who heads the Conservative Republican study group has tried to play a more prominent role in the caucus after Ms. Cheney’s break with Mr. Trump. On Saturday, Mr. McCarthy greeted Mr. Banks as “an amazing person” just before attacking anti-Trump Republicans in their ranks.
In the weeks since criticizing Mr. Trump for the January 6th fatal attack, Mr. McCarthy has struggled to improve his relationship with the former president, visiting and greeting him at his Florida home to keep going to play a role in the party.
Still, he has not shown himself to be able to dissuade Mr. Trump from launching a campaign of revenge against the Republicans who voted in favor of the indictment against him last month – a fact that was made clear on Friday when the former president turned a challenger against the Ohio Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of the MPs, approved 10 Republicans in the House who voted to indict Mr. Trump over the Capitol attack.
Mr Trump was also irritated by Mr McCarthy, as Politico first reported, for helping Ms. Cheney repel the efforts of the former president’s loyalists to remove her from her position in the leadership of the House.
However, despite the ongoing intra-party drama, McCarty predicted confidence that Republicans would retake a majority of the house next year and declared, “I would bet my house” on such an outcome.
After a large part of the first day of the conference was devoted to the slamming of large technology companies and the “cancellation of culture”, the G.O.P. Führer and a bevy of his colleagues used Saturday’s meeting to outline their opposition to the $ 1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that House Democrats voted overnight on a party line.
They tried to link the growing conservative anger towards social media giants to the relief effort.
“She has included a tunnel in Silicon Valley that has nothing to do with Covid,” McCarthy said of House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, playing on the means of the proposal to expand a subway in San Jose , California.
A day after the speeches by a number of Senators believed to be keeping an eye on the 2024 presidential election, and the day before Mr Trump’s address, two more potential candidates were warmly welcomed by the Conservative crowd: former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota.
Mr Pompeo attacked President Biden, recalling the Trump administration’s foreign policy successes.
“How many of you remember Qasem Soleimani?” Mr Pompeo said of the Iranian leader who was killed by American forces on Mr Trump’s orders. “Allah rest his soul.”
Ms. Noem drew more attention and applause. Before she spoke, dozens of CPAC attendees, including many young Republicans, waited in line to get her autograph.
Ms. Noem has developed a nationally conservative following for her frequent appearances on Fox News and her refusal to take action to contain the spread of the coronavirus in South Dakota, despite the state having experienced some of the highest death rates in the country since the virus.
However, almost a year after the outbreak broke out and months of businesses and schools closed, many conservative activists are eager to get back to pre-Covid life.
The governor received the loudest applause of any speaker at the conference as she belittled Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert and a figure that many on the right-wing believe is unduly alarming.
“I don’t know if you agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is very wrong,” Ms. Noem said, getting hundreds of attendees to their feet.