NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Some Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attendees praised GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the conference on Friday while others said it sends the wrong message.
Trump was scheduled to speak on Saturday morning.
Randy Foreman said Trump made a good decision to cancel.
“It’s been a logistical nightmare in terms of the security lines. There’s just no way to really move around National Harbor,” he said. “I don’t think it would have been good for the attendees. Could he have appeared to CPAC via video? Maybe he should have done that instead.”
Ben Carson, who dropped out of the race during his speech at the conference, had Secret Service protection onsite. Many attendees complained about the long wait to get into the ballroom for his speech on social media.
This reporter tried interviewing Carson after his remarks. Carson started to answer the question when security stepped in the way to interrupt the interview.
Foreman predicted that Trump would lose the straw poll after canceling. The GOP front-runner only got 15 percent, compared to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) with 40 percent support and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with 30 percent.
Elizabeth Ames thought Trump dropped out because he wouldn’t have been well-received. Trump has appeared at CPAC since 2011.
“I think it shows enormous weakness, which he’s not supposed to be showing. I thought he had more cajones,” she said. “He knew he had a very hostile audience so I figured he didn’t want to hear all the boos. They have been booing him throughout the entire meeting.”
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, the organization that sponsors CPAC, said the Trump campaign asked the organizers to change the terms to allow him to give longer remarks and they declined.
Trump spoke at a campaign event in Kansas on Saturday instead.
Kassy Dillon, who supports Rubio for president, said it was the wrong decision for Trump’s campaign to make.
“It just shows the conservative movement that he doesn’t really care about us,” she said.
“I think he’s scared. Everyone here is not a big supporter of him. He does have his little niche but the majority of us are not.”
Adelita Simon said it is “sad” Trump won’t be there for his supporters.
“Obviously he’s a p*ssy and it’s exactly like someone quoted, you know, with such small hands he can’t control this big crowd,” she said, referring to Rubio saying Trump has small hands.
Simon is supporting Rubio instead.
“He actually has policies. He actually has a plan and he’s nice and he’s honest,” she said.
Michael Najvar, a Cruz-turned- Trump supporter, said the real estate mogul was right to skip CPAC.
“It’s a wise move because what soldier or what general will go into an ambush when you know it’s an ambush — why would you go into it? It’s been reported that many of the — from what I’ve heard — up to 1,000 Cruz supporters are going to boo him while he is speaking,” he said. “So why would you go into a situation like that and cause further hostility among the people? You avoid the tension by staying away. It’s a smart move. It’s a smart political move.”