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Trump, Gov. DeSantis headline CPAC event in Orlando, CPAC chairman defends inviting Trump

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© Provided by Gainesville WCJB-TV FILE – In this Jan. 4, 2021, file photo President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue at Dalton Regional Airport in Dalton, Ga

ORLANDO, Fla. (WCJB) – Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will headline the Conservative Political Action Conference this week in Orlando.

This will be Trump’s first public appearance since leaving the White House. Trump and DeSantis will join a long list of speakers for the conservative event set to take place at the Hyatt Regency near the Orange County Convention Center Feb. 25-28.

RELATED STORY: Rep. Charlie Crist asks DOJ to investigate Gov. DeSantis’ COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Florida

CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp has received some criticism after reaching out to Trump and making him a speaker for the event.

“The reason why it’s right for President Trump to be at CPAC is because he just spent four years enacting the most conservative policy we have ever seen from any president, certainly any Republican president,” said Schlapp to CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “Certainly 78 million Americans voted for him. They thought the policies made American strong, we weren’t apologizing overseas, the forgotten men and women had great economic prospects. He simply did what he said he would do. So why not have him speak?”

The former President has claimed that the election was won due to voter fraud, although the Supreme Court on Monday rejected a handful of cases related to the 2020 election from: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“We are going to spend a lot of time going through what happened in these states,” said Schlapp. “It is still very important to go back to the idea of legal voting and people should be legally registered to vote in order to vote.”

Meanwhile, Gov. DeSantis’ popularity continues to rise among Republicans in the state of Florida and nationwide, after how he handled the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“DeSantis believes that schools, churches & football should be open for business,” tweeted Schlapp. “So, we decided that CPAC should move to Florida to allow Americans a healthy outlet in an attempt to fight lockdowns & cancel culture. We are also hoping to have a beer with America’s Governor.”

Although DeSantis has been praised by conservatives, some in his state have criticized his COVID vaccine roll out approach.

“Time and time again, Governor DeSantis has proven he is not up to the task of leading our state out of this pandemic as he continues to play politics with the health and well-being of vulnerable Floridians,” said Rep. Charlie Crist after asking the US Department of Justice to investigate Gov. Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 vaccine roll out in Florida. “So far, over 30,000 Floridians have died and at least 1.8 million more have gotten sick, with minority communities and seniors hit the hardest. Instead of prioritizing people most at risk, the Governor has chosen – during the worst pandemic in a century – to help out his friends and donors. That is why I’m calling on the Department of Justice to investigate.”

RELATED STORY: DeSantis on criticism on state’s COVID-19 vaccine roll out: ‘I wouldn’t be complaining’

Others speaking at CPAC include former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sen. Rick Scott, Rep. Kat Cammack, and Jon Voight.

Former Vice President, Mike Pence, turned down an opportunity to speak at the event.

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