Rumored presidential candidate Donald Trump will make a surprise visit to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington today. He plans to address the convention in the afternoon. The decision to attend CPAC was pushed by Trump’s longtime political advisor Roger Stone, and indicates the billionaire real estate mogul is becoming serious about seeking the Republican nomination for president next year.
Trump has been hinting at his desire to run for months. “For the first time in my life, I am absolutely thinking about it,” he told MSNBC in October. According to Newsmax, Trump is “telling friends he has decided he will definitely run.” And although he denied any involvement when someone began mysteriously polling New Hampshire residents about their thoughts on a Trump campaign, he still made sure to tell Fox News that he heard the results were “amazing.”
Chris Barron, the chairman of the conservative gay group GOProud, told The Daily Caller it was his organization that invited Trump to CPAC and that, personally, he “would love to see Mr. Trump run for president.” Barron noted that CPAC has been boycotted by some social conservatives (whom he dismisses as a “handful of extremists”) because of GOProud’s involvement with the event this year, and that GOProud “wanted to do something to help support the conference, which is why we wanted Mr. Trump to come.”
“Mr. Trump is somebody whose voice is heard all around the world,” he said. “He’s not only a well respected businessman, and somebody who obviously has a giant megaphone, and having him involved in this event and talking about those issues – issues that are not only important to GOProud but important to conservatives all across this country — is critical.”
Although he accepted GOProud’s invitation, the twice-divorced Trump also appears to be trying to improve his image among social conservatives. Trump, who stated that he was pro-choice when he mulled a run for president in 2000, told popular conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday that he is, in fact, pro-life. “Oh, you didn’t know that?” Trump asked a surprised Ingraham, despite an abundance of news stories that refer to his pro-choice views.
There has also been talk of a grassroots effort to Draft Trump, although so far the loudest voice calling for The Donald to run seems to be on his payroll. Michael Cohen, an executive vice resident at the Trump Organization, is also the proprietor of a website which encourages his boss to run for the presidency. “I am, like so many people, truly hoping Mr. Trump elects to run for president,” Cohen told Politico earlier this month. “I have the honor of working for the Trump Organization and knowing Mr. Trump as an individual. He would make a first-rate president. He would change the playing field as far as where America stands in this global economy.”
Could Donald Trump, the Manhattan socialite, reality game show host, and big time donor to Democrats like Rahm Emanuel, really have what it takes to win the Republican nomination? Despite the unique obstacles a Trump campaign would face, his personal wealth and sky-high name recognition would likely take him some distance should he decide to run. The question is whether or not GOP primary voters could ever take him seriously.
Trump, for one, seems optimistic. “I’m a very conservative person,” Trump told Ingraham. “People don’t know me from the standpoint of politics, and I guess they’re getting to know me.”