- Mike Pence will not be attending the CPAC conference this year, an organizer confirmed.
- Instead, Donald Trump is the highest-profile guest, alongside many of his allies.
- CPAC was once a mainstay of establishment conservatism, but is increasingly loyal to Trump.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Former vice president Mike Pence has declined an invitation to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where former president Donald Trump is scheduled to make his first public speech since leaving office.
The conference opens on Thursday in Orlando, Florida, and is one of the year’s most important conservative political gatherings.
As one of the most high profile conservatives in the US, Pence is usually a prominent speaker at the event.
Matt Schlapp, the organizer of CPAC, told confirmed in an interview with USA Today that Pence said no. The news was reported earlier by Politico.
Schlapp express regret at Pence’s absence saying that “conservatives want to hear his take on the current threats posed by socialism and this radicalized Democrat party.”
A source close to Pence told CNN that the former vice president is looking to stay out of the public eye for six months.
The news that Pence would not be attending came after Trump was confirmed on Saturday as a speaker at the event.
Trump’s relationship with Pence deteriorated fast after the November election, reaching a nadir around the Capitol riot on January 6.
Pence had refused to attempt to block to certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, ignoring prompts from Trump, because he does not have the constitutional authority to do so.
During Trump’s impeachment trial, senators were presented with evidence that Trump had continued to attack Pence on Twitter despite learning of the danger he was in during the riot.
Supporters of the president chanted “hang Mike Pence” during the riot, furious that he did not act to block the process.
While Trump boycotted Biden’s inauguration, Pence attended it.
Intermediaries, including Ivanka Trump, have stepped in to try and repair relations between them.
Insider reported last week that the way the conference is shaping up shows that CPAC is siding with Trump in the battle for the soul of the Republican Party that erupted after the riot.
While the Republican grassroots and some lawmakers have remained loyal to Trump, a smaller number of influential Republicans, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, are seeking to distance the party from the former president.