(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, next Sunday, according to a source familiar with the matter, while former Vice President Mike Pence declined an invitation to speak at the conference, two sources said. to CNN.
One source said organizers still hope to change Pence’s opinion on his attendance, while another source said Pence plans to stay under the radar for the next six months. Politico first reported that Pence declined the invitation.
The divergence between the two former leaders, which occurs as the Republican Party is grappling with defining its future after Trump’s presidency, follows tensions between Trump and Pence surrounding the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill of the United States and Pence’s role in certifying the election results for President Joe Biden.
“We accept that Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States,” former Pence chief of staff Marc Short told CNN’s Pamela Brown on “Newsroom” Saturday night, even though Pence played a role in the perpetuation of the baseless theories of voter fraud that Trump repeatedly pushed before the attack on Capitol Hill.
Unlike Trump, Pence attended Biden’s inauguration in Washington last month, after skipping Trump’s farewell ceremony.
Short said Saturday that Trump and Pence “left amicably (from the White House)” and have spoken since.
The source familiar with Trump’s plans to attend CPAC, who is also familiar with the former president’s speech, told CNN on Saturday that he will “talk about the future of the Republican Party and the Conservative movement.”
“Also expect the 45th president to confront President Biden’s disastrous border and amnesty policies,” added the source.
The commitment to speak would mark Trump’s first public appearance following his departure from the White House last month and comes at a time when high-ranking Republicans are divided on how to treat the former president, and his loyalists recently visited him in Florida.
One of Trump’s campaign managers, Brad Parscale, met with the former president at his club in Mar-a-Lago this week for an extended meeting, according to a family source. Utah Sen. Mike Lee held a fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night, according to another family source, a potential sign of more visits to come.
Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-largest Republican in the House of Representatives, met privately with Trump Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago, CNN reported, the day before Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, promise never to.
The simmering dispute between Trump and McConnell has escalated in recent dayss, raising questions about whether the two can ever work together for the future of the Republican Party.
Trump criticized McConnell in a lengthy statement released Tuesday night after McConnell harshly criticized the former president from the Senate last Saturday and in an opinion piece Monday in the Wall Street Journal, despite voting to acquit Trump in his second impeachment.
In his statement Tuesday, Trump promised to back candidates in the Senate primaries who defend his worldview, something that could lead to a showdown with McConnell’s preferred candidates as the seven-term senator pushes Republicans who believes they have the best chance of winning in the upcoming midterm elections.
That tension underscores the division among top Republicans on how to navigate the party after Trump. Unlike McConnell, the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, traveled to South Florida after the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill to meet with Trump and then proclaim unity with him to try to win back the House in 2022.
But McCarthy is leading a conference in which most members strongly support Trump, as opposed to Senate Republicans, who are divided over the former president and where some high-level leaders are eager to leave him behind and focus on uniting the party. around ideas, not a person.
CNN’s Dana Bash, Kaitlan Collins, and Manu Raju contributed to this report.