Nervous Republicans watch on as Donald Trump prepares for first speech since leaving White House

  • ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy on what Trump has said

I wonder who woke up thinking of Donald Trump this morning? Who woke up just a bit uneasy what the day might hold? Who feared his wrath, feared being taken down from his pulpit? Probably not his opponents, more likely his acolytes.

As Donald Trump prepares to return, literally, to the political stage his message will be as feared as it is anticipated. Don’t mistake being out of power for no longer having power.

The man who has the power to make or break Republicans and the GOP is about to speak publicly for the first time since his defeat.

In Delaware, where the actual President is having his weekend, it probably won’t be given too much thought. In Wyoming and Kentucky, Liz Cheney and Mitch McConnell probably have an idea what’s coming their way, having dared cross him.

What next for the Trump kids after a shock voter poll? Listen to our podcast on the fallout from Trump's election defeat

But what of those who aren’t so sure where they stand. Kevin McCarthy, the most senior Republican in the house, he was doing OK with his welcome at Mar-a-Largo, but he’d not sort of supported Cheney then.

Keep an eye on the rigour smile as he claps and cheers desperately hoping to avoid political evisceration, humiliation or the ignominy of being ignored. Others are likely peeking from behind the sofa. Mike Pence isn’t risking the masses and is staying away.

So too Nicki Hayley, no place on the podium this year. Once loyal lieutenants now less clear where they stand in the rankings.

The pretenders to the Trump throne will be there though. Watch the CPAC audience for strutting young bucks potentially being levelled by a strutty older one.

Ted Cruz is one who may be watching with some nerves. Credit: AP

Eyes on Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis. They will be listening, not in fear of public shaming, in fear for their own fortunes.

They know if Donald Trump goes for it in 2024 they may as well shove their ill-concealed ambitions in the box of lost hopes for a few more years. He will steal their hopes and their dreams.

Win or lose a nomination, they have aligned themselves so closely, he will either take the ground from beneath them or leave it so churned their chance of the presidency in 2024 is done for.

The man who has the potential to make or break Republicans is stepping up to the mic... big breaths all round.