Trump backs out of CPAC speech to campaign in Kansas

By Danielle Haynes  |  March 4, 2016 at 1:10 PM
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WICHITA, Kan., March 4 (UPI) -- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has canceled his planned speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, event organizers announced Friday.

The real estate mogul was scheduled to appear on stage Saturday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are all still set to speak at the event this weekend.

Trump's campaign issued a statement saying he would be campaigning in Kansas instead of hobnobbing with conservative bigwigs.

"The Donald J. Trump for President Campaign has just announced it will be in Wichita, Kansas for a major rally on Saturday prior to Caucus," the statement read. "He will also be speaking at the Kansas Caucus and then departing for Orlando, Florida and a crowd of approximately 20,000 people or more. Because of this, he will not be able to speak at CPAC as he has done for many consecutive years."

The move comes one day after a Fox News Republican debate featuring Trump, Cruz, Kasich and Rubio that at times devolved into shouting matches and a barrage of personal insults. On Friday, some pundits and party insiders criticized the debate -- accusing candidates and other conservative leaders of ganging up on Trump, while others chastised all involved for name-calling.

CPAC reacted to Trump's decision on Twitter, saying organizers were disappointed he decided to drop out at the last minute.

"His choice sends a clear message to conservatives," the tweet read.

The annual multi-day event is a favorite for Republican presidential candidates and other conservative newsmakers, donors and activists. Trump, Carson, Cruz and Rubio appeared on stage last year as well as fellow -- now former -- presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.

Carson announced earlier this week he intends to address the status of his campaign Friday at CPAC -- an indication he intends to suspend his run for president.

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