Former President Donald Trump went after “RINOs” who voted to impeach or convict him during the impeachment effort, including all seven Republican senators who joined Democrats.
Trump, in his CPAC speech on Sunday, suggested that Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Pa.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) along with the 10 House Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment, ending with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the House.
“Hopefully they’ll get rid of her,” he said, referring to Cheney. “Get rid of them all.”
Earlier in the week, Cheney told reporters that “I don’t believe that [Trump] should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”
Most of the congressmembers who voted to impeach or convict Trump have received blowback in their home states, with some local GOP organizations voting to censure.
“I will be actively working to elect strong, tough, and smart Republican leaders,” Trump declared. “RINOs will destroy the Republican Party … and the American workers,” he said, using the acronym for “Republicans in Name Only,” a pejorative used for Republican elected officials who are alleged to govern and legislate like Democrats.
Trump told his audience that Democrats “always stick together” and are “vicious” in how they go after their opponents.
But the former president said the GOP is “united,” adding that the vast majority of the party disagree with “political hacks” in Washington D.C.
He said he had no plans to try to launch a third party, an idea he has discussed with advisers in the last couple of months.
“We’re not starting new parties. We have the Republican Party. It’s going to be united and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party,” he said.
The results of a straw poll of CPAC conference participants gave Trump a strong show of support with 55 percent saying they would vote for him in the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came in second place with 21 percent.
Without Trump, DeSantis led the field with 43 percent, and other potential Republican candidates had single digits. A separate question on the poll asked whether Trump should run again in 2024, with 68 percent saying he should run and 32 percent opposing or having no opinion.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) released a memo on Feb. 23 urging Republicans to promptly drop the internal squabbling and focus on defeating the Democrats in future elections.
“But now is not the time for division and here’s why: For the first time in any of our lives, socialism has become the unabashed, governing policy of the Democrat Party,” Scott wrote. “The Democrats are fast abandoning any pretense of allegiance to the First and Second Amendments to our Constitution, they’ll give up on the rest of it in due time.”
Reuters contributed to this report.