Haley demands fitness test for old politicians

Haley demands fitness test for old politicians

OThe battle for the post of presidential candidate for 2024 has officially begun in the Republican party. But in the convention center not far from Washington there is still only one Republican these days, whose name is emblazoned all over T-shirts, cowboy hats and flags: donald trump. In recent years, he has made the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which used to be an indicator of the issues and mood within the party, his personal stage. Anyone who wants to be surrounded by the “Make America Great Again” idea makes a pilgrimage to the conference.

Sofia Dreisbach

North American political correspondent based in Washington.

So it is not surprising that from the expected large pool of Republicans who want to face Trump in the primary, only a few appear at the CPAC this time. Nikki Haley, his former UN ambassador and first official challenger, started on Friday. Haley never once mentioned Trump during her 15-minute speech, instead railing against the “socialist Democrats.” But die-hard Trump fans may not have liked a repeated demand from the former governor of South Carolina: a fitness test for all politicians over 75.

In this speech, too, Haley always referred to the 80-year-old President by name Joe Biden, but Trump is already 76 years old. And so the dig hit when Haley said America wasn’t past its prime, but its politicians were. “If you’re tired of losing, bet on a new generation,” 51-year-old Haley called out to the audience. When she left the hall after her speech, some visitors chanted in front of the door: “We love Trump.”

less interest

But the demonstrative Trump supporters at this CPAC cannot hide the fact that interest in the event, or at least in its direction, seems to be waning. The event hall was not even half full on Thursday and Friday, and not just for Haley’s speech. Most of Trump’s potential challengers – such as the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, and former Vice President Mike Pence – are not even on the agenda. Instead, they are scheduled to appear at a weekend event in Florida hosted by the Club for Growth, a right-wing conservative group that is one of the Republicans’ biggest donors.

The conference is also expensive for regular visitors. The four-day ticket now costs $295, special events cost extra, plus travel and accommodation. Madeline Markwood and her fellow students sat in the car for eight hours to be there. As students, they only pay fifty dollars to enter, they can afford it.

It is important to them to meet like-minded people: on the campus in Ohio they are outnumbered as conservatives. Markwood’s age group – she’s 21 years old – has traditionally been less represented at CPAC. Markwood enjoyed Nikki Haley’s speech and encouraged courage as a young woman, she said, even if “left-wing feminism” is dangerous. He changes society and takes the “women and wives”.

The debate about what is taught in schools regarding gender and sexuality has dominated this CPAC so far, as it did at the last meeting in Texas last year. In her speech on Friday, Haley spoke of a “woken self-loathing” that had swept over the United States and had to be driven out of schools. “Wokeness” is more dangerous than any pandemic. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is being discussed as a possible candidate, also said in his speech on Friday that all parents know what is going on in the schools. “You’ve had enough of this.”

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