Trump’s half-full CPAC crowd shows his unpopularity

  • Chris Christie said the “half-full” crowd at this weekend’s CPAC was a sign of Trump’s unpopularity.
  • Christie said Trump may now be the front-runner in the GOP for 2024, but he’s not as powerful as he was before.
  • “There’s a lot of evidence here that he’s not who he used to be,” Christie said.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the small crowd at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference showed how much former President Donald Trump’s popularity has waned.

“You saw the scenes at CPAC, that room was half full,” Christie said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

Christie said that “only the most desperate people have turned up at CPAC to even speak, other than Trump or people close to Trump.”

Christie added that he suspects Trump isn’t holding rallies often now because he knows the crowds won’t be “close to the size” they used to be.

“He measures that as an example of his own power and authority, and I don’t think he has it anymore,” Christie said, citing Trump’s upset that his 2017 inauguration was attended by fewer people than his predecessors .

But Christie acknowledged that Trump remains the frontrunner in the GOP presidential race, largely because he is a former president running for re-election.

“There’s a lot of evidence here that he’s not who he used to be,” Christie said on ABC.

Christie’s criticism comes as no surprise — he’s a former Trump ally and has become a vocal critic of Trump. And in November, Christie told the Washington Examiner that he would decide in five to six months whether he wanted to run for president himself. If he runs, he will be one of Trump’s rivals for the 2024 GOP ticket.

It’s unclear if this year’s CPAC attendance was significantly lower than previous years. Photos circulating on Twitter over the weekend appeared to show many empty seats in the auditorium.

It’s also unclear if CPAC turnout was in any way affected by the private withdrawal of Florida conservative group Club for Growth. That event, which clashed with CPAC, was chaired by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, CNN reported.

“The donors, the members and the voters are all looking for the same thing — a strong candidate who can run for president and win back the White House,” David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, told Fox News in a story published on Friday.

When asked about Trump, McIntosh said Trump was not invited to the Florida retreat because Club for Growth donors already “know” Trump.

“They like his record as president, but they’re not sure he can win. So they’re going to take a look and this will be an opportunity for the candidates to present themselves,” McIntosh told Fox News.

Meanwhile, during a speech at CPAC on Saturday, Trump vowed not to drop out of the 2024 presidential race even if impeached.

In a Truth Social post on Sunday, Trump said CPAC was “an amazing experience” and that the “place is filled with great American patriots.” In another post on Sunday, he criticized the Club for Growth, calling it the “Club for No Growth” and slamming it for supporting “Ron DeSanctus.”

CPAC officials and a Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to insider requests for comment.

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