DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Former President Donald Trump spoke to over four thousand conservatives as he closed out the CPAC event in Dallas Sunday afternoon.
Many conservatives have said the former president remains the leader of their party. He received a huge welcome to those in attendance.
Those who attended took part in two straw polls for the 2024 Republican primary for president. One included the former president and the other didn’t.
The poll that included Trump had him far ahead at 70%, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 21%. Everyone else was at 1% or lower.
The poll that did not include the former president had DeSantis at 68%. Others, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, were in the low single digits.
Trump has said he’s made up his mind about running for president again but won’t announce it publicly yet.
During his address, the former president said Texas would not turn blue with the right candidates.
“This state is never going to be in play. This is a very, very special place and we’re going to keep it the way it is,” he said.
Trump received a standing ovation when he mentioned his lawsuit against Big Tech firms Facebook, Google and Twitter for censoring him and others.
“We will keep on fighting until we have stopped this assault on our liberty and until we have restored the sacred right to freedom of speech for every single American,” he said.
He also sharply criticized President Joe Biden and his administration for what he called their open border policies.
“The Biden administration has turned the border into the single greatest disaster in American history,” Trump said. “… all of America is now one giant sanctuary city.”
Attendees stated they want to see Trump run for president again.
“We’re looking for someone to pick up the mantle. Right now, he has the mantle, absolutely. He has the values, he has the issues that we all think are important,” Trump supporter Karen Pausman said.
“I think we need Trump back for four more years,” another supporter, Lisa McEntire, said.
A number of Texas Republican leaders addressed the conference since Friday including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, former State Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas and outgoing Texas GOP Chair Allen West.
Both Huffines and West are challenging Abbott for governor.
This was the second CPAC conference this year and the first one in Texas.
Ian Walters, communications director for the American Conservative Union that organizes the conference, said Texas is an important state. “There’s a concern there’s a migration problem from California, folks who are leaving blue states that are locked down and coming to free, open states like Texas. We wonder if that’s going to change the political dynamics at all. America’s watching what happens to Texas in the next few years.”