ORLANDO, Feb 27 — The atmosphere was electric yesterday at a Florida hotel as attendees at a key annual Republican conference eagerly awaited a speech by Donald Trump.

The hotel hosting the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida was crowded with seas of red hats and US flags brought out to welcome the still wildly popular former president, due to headline the key Republican event.

The 75-year-old billionaire will take to the podium on the third day of the conference, playing to his strength as a rousing speaker beloved by his base.

Vanessa Broussard, who travelled from Texas for the event, was so excited to see Trump speak she could barely sleep.

“I don’t think that there are words to really describe how I feel about Donald Trump. I’m a huge fan,” 40-year-old Broussard said.

“I have seen what he has done as the 45th president of the United States. We had a booming economy... we had a wall being built at our southern border. He just had this country glowing.”

We’ll ‘stick by him’

Trump’s upcoming appearance changed the atmosphere at the hotel hosting the convention, with a proliferation of banners supporting a Trump 2024 presidential run and claiming the last election — won by President Joe Biden — was stolen.

Signs insulting Biden mixed with hats emblazoned with Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” that were worn by students, couples with young children and seniors alike.

Five people sporting t-shirts, each with one letter of Trump’s name, sat side by side in the hall waiting for the evening speech.

For many at the conference, Trump is the man they hope to see back in the White House and a driving force for Republicans to take back legislative seats in November midterm elections.

“Without Donald Trump, nobody is going to win these elections,” said Maria Boham, 59, of the November and 2024 polls.

“We are going to stick by him because he stands for God, he stands for the family, he stands for its existence, he stands for my values. Period.” — AFP