- Sen. Ted Cruz said the GOP is for the working class and “not just the party of country clubs.”
- But CPAC, where Cruz was speaking, seemed to be all about Donald Trump, who lives at a club he also owns.
- Cruz himself was criticized last week for leaving frigid Texas to visit a luxury resort in Cancun.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz gave a fiery speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, shouting about freedom, mask-wearing, and late-night comedians.
He also proclaimed the Republican Party is the party of working-class Americans and not just country clubs — but the conference itself seemed to be fixated on former President Donald Trump, a man who literally lives at one.
“The Republican Party is not just the party of country clubs, the Republican Party is the party of steel workers, construction workers, pipeline workers, police officers, firefighters, waiters and waitresses,” Cruz said in his speech.
—Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 26, 2021
Cruz also emphasized his support of Trump in his speech, indicating that Trumpism is the future of the GOP.
“There are a whole lot of voices in Washington that want to just erase the last four years,” Cruz said. “Let me tell you this right now, Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere.”
CPAC itself has largely been centered on the former president. The annual conference is taking place in Orlando, Florida this weekend and usually brings together conservative organizations, activists, and public figures.
Speakers this year included mostly pro-Trump conservatives, while establishment Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were largely absent, Insider’s Tom LoBianco reported.
—Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) February 26, 2021
Videos and photos of the event showed Trump had a dominant presence, including a large golden statue depicting the former president wearing American flag shorts (Politico reported the statue was made in Mexico).
The event was also full of Trump-themed merchandise being sold at stands, with “Trump 2024” and “Make America Great Again” slogans appearing on hats, shirts, and stuffed animals.
Many attendees also sported MAGA masks and hats.
Trump himself will speak on the last day of the conference and reportedly plans to use the speech, his first since leaving office, to demonstrate his influence over the Republican Party, Axios reported.
After leaving the White House, Trump moved into his exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort, a private club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump has owned the estate since 1985, paying $8 million for it, and lived there for years before converting it into a private club. The Trump family maintains private residences there and it was often referred to as “the winter White House” during Trump’s four years in office.
The club is not open to the public and membership costs reportedly soared to $200,000 plus a $14,000 annual fee after Trump was elected. That’s nearly four times the average annual salary for a Florida police officer or a steel worker, both professions Cruz called out in his speech.
Trump also owns 15 golf clubs around the world. Nine of them are private, including Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey, which reportedly costs $300,000 to join.
As for Cruz, he came under scrutiny last week for leaving Texas amid devastating winter storms to visit a luxury resort in Cancun as millions of Texans struggled without power or potable water. He returned the following day and expressed regret for his departure, calling it a “mistake.”
But that didn’t stop him from joking about it at CPAC.
“Orlando is awesome,” he said. “It’s not as nice as Cancun. But it’s nice.”