Trump loyalists out in force as American conservatives gather in Maryland

The election may be more than a year away, but Donald Trump is planning to use a conference of leading right-wing figures to push his campaign to be the next Republican presidential candidate, as US Correspondent Dan Rivers reports from Washington DC.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) sounds about as interesting as a paint-drying convention. But these days, right-wing politics in America are a battlefield of opinion with Donald Trump loyalists trying to dominate this event.

They haven’t quite got a stranglehold on it, but the Make America Great Again faction has dominated the conference.

From the moment you walk into the sprawling hotel complex just outside Washington DC, you notice the Trump banners and colourful characters wearing MAGA hats, Donald facemasks and provocative T-shirts.

I had a chance to catch up with some of Trump’s loyalist supporters including his former strategist Steve Bannon.

Steve Bannon told Dan Rivers the US is 'tired of paying for Ukraine', while he called the Tory party a 'joke' and insisted Donald Trump will '100%' win the Republican nomination.

As you can see, he has an opinion on just about everything, but even a man who fell out specularly with the Donald, thinks he’s a shoe in for the Republican nomination.

I also caught a few words with Donald Trump Junior who told me the reason some senior republicans were absent this years was because they didn’t want to share a stage with his father. Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis and Mitch McConnell all chose to stay away. So did many others which Trump supporters call RINOs - Republican in name only.

Those missing here highlight the rift at the heart of the party which only looks to get worse as we grind towards 2024.

The headline act is on stage tomorrow. At 5pm, the applause might not quite thunder across the Potomac, but his rapturous reception will perhaps unsettle his rivals for the nomination. Nikki Haley got a taster of the bitterness to come as she was heckled by a few hard-core Trump supporters on her way out of the hotel today.

Red on Red fire will get much worse as we head into the summer, with more candidates officially announcing their bids and the political temperature soaring.

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