Trump, DeSantis rival events deepen US Republican divide | Politics News

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Washington, DC – A schism in the US conservative movement is visible among Republicans, with the president’s opponents expected to attend key events and separate constituencies divided on issues such as aid to Ukraine, spending defense, the debt ceiling and the role of the US government.

Former President Donald Trump, who has already announced his intention to run for a second term in 2024, will headline the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) which just started this week outside of Washington, DC. Once the biggest event in conservative politics, it has lost some of its luster while embracing Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) constituency.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is considered Trump’s strongest rival, is jumping on CPAC for a special back-up to donors backed by the conservative anti-tax group Club For Growth. Trump, who once supported the group, was not invited to the closed-door gathering being held in Palm Beach, Florida, near his Mar-a-Lago estate.

The dueling events have split prominent Republicans who served under Trump, with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo picking CPAC, former Vice President Mike Pence backing away and Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, speaking at both. Haley announced her 2024 presidential run last month.

“There are always divisions in parties and those are magnified by presidential primaries,” Republican consultant Doug Heye told Al Jazeera. It’s unclear at this time how big the Republican divide is. that, he said.

DeSantis hasn’t announced his candidacy yet but he’s already behaving like a man on the stump, as he travels the country promoting his new book The Courage to be Free, which explains his policy table.

The governor has highlighted his conservative agenda and won praise from many on the right by signing a series of laws, including on cultural issues, as well as ending Corporate America, some of his favorite targets.

On Monday, DeSantis signed a bill to end Disney World’s self-governing status, after the corporation last year criticized the Parental Rights in Education Act, which banned teaching about gender identity. and sexual orientation. DeSantis’ hardline stance toward big business is a stark contrast to the previous embrace of many Republicans. “In this environment, old-guard corporate Republicans are not up to the task,” DeSantis wrote in his book.

Earlier this week, Trump unveiled a trade proposal that would continue his previous hard line toward China. His policy, which calls for universal baseline tariffs and revoking Beijing’s most-favored-nation trade status, has angered a key Republican constituency: rural Americans, including farmers who depends on the Chinese market.

Challenges facing potential presidential candidates in today’s conservative movement will consist of different philosophies, and at times controversial.

“It is not yet clear whether any divisions are more or less than before. how come [the] maybe a manipulated debt ceiling speaks to this,” Heye said.

It is up to Congress to raise or stop the US debt ceiling, the amount of money the US is allowed to spend, which has been done 20 times since 2002. But some conservatives want more cuts expenditure before considering an increase in the country’s debt ceiling. and they threaten to let the US disappear rather than relent. A default, unprecedented in US history, would have a devastating effect on its economy.

Republicans are also divided over defense spending. A large defense budget was once a unified party priority, but some on the political right want budget cuts to include defense to bring down federal spending. Their opponents argue that this goes against conservative ideas.

US military and financial aid to Ukraine has also divided conservatives.

“I will work with anyone and everyone … to end wars … Trump has also been critical of Democratic President Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine.

“If you look and understand the moves Biden is making on Ukraine, he is systematically, but perhaps unknowingly, pushing us into what could soon be THE WORLD III,” Trump said on Truth Social, his social media platform.

DeSantis told Fox News last month that the US support was little more than a “blank blank check”.

Other Republicans running or planning to run for president strongly agree. Asked whether the US should open the checkbook, Haley told Fox News: “We shouldn’t be writing blank checks. We should not put troops on the ground. We should give them the equipment to defend themselves because this is a war they are winning. This is not a war about Russia and Ukraine. It’s about freedom. And this is one we must win. “

Former Vice President Mike Pence agreed. “We have to stay in the fight,” he said on another Fox News show. “It’s absolutely necessary that we see through.”

Republican adviser Alice Stewart called those in the party who want to end aid to Ukraine a “vocal minority.”

“Most Republicans understand the need and value of supporting Ukraine,” she explained, but they want more clarity on how the money will be spent.

Although some of the policy differences in the movement may be strong, former Republican leader Saul Anuzis told Al Jazeera that the division was healthy for the conservative cause.

“Overall, it’s a center-right movement that’s coming together” to oppose the Democratic agenda, said Anuzis, the former head of the Michigan state Republican Party. He called it a “natural progression” of growth as the movement grows larger and wider.

An indication of which side holds sway could come from the CPAC straw poll, which used to be a strong indicator of conservative support for a candidate.

“The results there will be interesting,” Stewart said.

Trump has been criticized for starting a slow campaign after announcing his re-election bid in November. The CPAC speech is one of the few big events he’s had since then. He has largely limited his campaign activity to releasing policy papers and posting on his social media site criticism of DeSantis as well as various attacks on his favorite targets, Biden and the media. .

If Trump does not succeed in the straw poll, it could raise questions about his campaign. If another candidate does better than expected, he or she is likely to get a promotion.

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