U.S. conservatives praised Donald Trump at an annual gathering on Friday (February 26), even unveiling a golden statue of the former president, showing he remains a Republican political force despite violent scenes in Washington last month.
Prominent congressional conservatives – including Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley and Representatives Steve Scalise and Matt Gaetz – were among the Trump loyalists speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, which the former president will address on Sunday (February 28).
If there was any doubt that CPAC this year was devoted to Trump, the gold-colored statue of the former president, dressed in a jacket, red tie and Stars-and-Stripes boxing shorts was on display at the conference site.
Two participants wheeled the larger-than-life statue through the conference center lobby, according to a video on social media. It was initially unclear why the statue, showing a cartoonish version of Trump with an oversize head, was there.
The statue drew instant derision online, with commentators comparing it to the golden calf that enraged the prophet Moses in the Old Testament.
Later in the day, Tommy Zegan told Reuters he was the artist behind the statue and that he came up with the idea three years ago as a “more tasteful” antidote to some unflattering effigies of Trump at the time, such as the ‘Baby Trump’ balloons and the Trump ‘golden toilet’.
Zegan said the statue contains several symbolic elements that convey the spirit of Trump: the suit is for Trump’s status as a businessman, the red tie represents the Republican party, the sandals are because Zegan thinks this is the time for Trump to be vacationing “in the lap of luxury” and the magic wand?
“The magic wand basically represents what Obama had said. You know, ‘how is he going to bring back all these jobs? What does he have, some sort of magic wand?’ ” Zegan told Reuters.
Trump is expected to talk on Sunday about the future of the party and lay out policy differences within a group riven by differences in the wake of his chaotic four years in office.
CPAC is an event organized by the American Conservative Union, whose chairman, Matt Schlapp, is close to Trump. It is a prime venue for speakers who want to gauge interest in whether they should run for president based on the enthusiasm they generate.
(Production: Mana Rabiee)