Former President Donald Trump on Sunday urged his supporters to vote out “RINOs” in Congress, while encouraging the party to stay united around a pro-worker platform.
Trump said in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., that voters should cast out the so-called “Republicans in Name Only” in the 2022 midterm elections.
“Now more than ever is the time for tough, strong and energetic Republican leaders who have spines of steel,” Trump said.
“Top establishment Republicans in Washington should be spending their energy on opposing [President] Biden, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer and the Democrats. I’ve said to some of them, I said, ‘You know, during the Obama years and now during Biden, if you spent the same energy on attacking them, you’d actually be successful — as you do on attacking me in many cases’.”
Trump identified by name the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him one week after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot for allegedly inciting the violence, as well as the seven GOP senators who voted to convict him.
He also questioned aloud whether he did the right thing in endorsing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for re-election last year. McConnell voted to acquit Trump but attacked him in a subsequent speech.
“The Democrats don’t have grandstanders like [Senators] Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey. And in the House, Tom Rice [of] South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez — that’s another beauty, Fred Upton, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Peter Meijer, John Katko, David Valadao and of course the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney, how about that?” Trump said.
The crowd erupted in boos for Cheney (R-Wyo.), who is the No. 3 House Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
“The good news is in her state, she’s been censured and in her state her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I’ve ever seen. So hopefully they’ll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of them all!” Trump said.
The mere mention of McConnell’s name also attracted boos from the CPAC crowd.
“My endorsement of Mitch McConnell at his request… he made a request, he asked for my endorsement — brought him from one point down to 20 points up, and he won his race… I said, ‘I wonder if I’m doing the right thing here?’ But you know what, I did, I did what I did,” Trump said.
The ex-president, who flirted with running for president again in 2024 during his wide-ranging first speech since leaving office, argued that the GOP isn’t divided.
“If Republicans do not stick together, the RINOs that we’re surrounded with will destroy the Republican Party of the American worker, and will destroy our country itself. The RINOs, you know? Republican in name only,” Trump said.
He added: “But the Republican Party is united. The only division is between a handful of Washington, DC, establishment political hacks and everybody else all over the country. I think we have tremendous unity.”