15:11 GMT20 April 2021
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    As he was addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando last week, former US president Donald Trump hinted that he might join the 2024 presidential race.

    Pastor Mark Burns, an evangelical preacher and former Republican candidate for South Carolina's 4th congressional district seat, believes that Donald Trump is still enjoying vast support among the GOP members which makes his chances to succeed in the 2024 presidential election quite solid.

    Sputnik: Ex-US President Donald Trump has dropped hints that he might join the 2024 presidential race. Is there a challenger in the works? Or a course correction of a sort for the GOP?

    Mark Burns: First of all, it is clear, just based off of the CPAC straw poll that was ran, that over six to eight percent of the votes went to Donald Trump as the nominee. And then Ron DeSantis, who is the governor of the great State of Florida, came in a distant second. And then in some polls, Donald Trump Jr. came in an extremely distant third or fourth. But the overwhelming support from the GOP for its nominee in 2024 is still for Donald Trump. He's hitting the trail. We're hitting the trail to retake the house in 2022. And Donald Trump is still the leader of the Republican Party. I really don't see a real challenger. Of course, a lot can happen four years from now. But as of right now, I don't see a challenger that can really knock Donald Trump off as the leader of the Republican Party and the future 2024 nominee for president of the United States.

    Sputnik: Can the GOP bridge the divisions that currently plague the party? How huge is the chasm right now between the Republican base and the establishment?

    Mark Burns: Just based on the recent poll, 72 percent to 82 percent of the Republican base supports Donald Trump for re-election in 2024. The reality of it is you got to also see that there was another poll that suggested that over 50 percent of those who consider themselves the base of the Republican Party are willing to leave the GOP, the Republican Party, if Donald Trump started a third party. Now, again, I'm very happy. And that was my advice to not do so. I think that would be detrimental to what we are trying to do as conservatives in America and to push for our conservative agenda by simply splitting our party. But it is very clear that Donald Trump commands so much weight, so much so that the Republican Party really needs to listen to whatever Donald Trump says, because, again, people are willing - over half of those who consider themselves Republicans are willing to leave the Republican Party and to go to a third party if it was not about Donald Trump. But he's already made it clear that he's not going to be starting a third party, that if he ran, he’d be under the Republican banner.

    Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.
    © AFP 2021 / JOE RAEDLE
    Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

    Sputnik: How can the GOP regain their legislative power in the midterm elections?

    Mark Burns: We’ve got to flip the House. We've got to get the house. And we've got to keep in mind we were already underway, doing that in this last election. We flipped some very important seats in California, the very liberal state of California. And so we're on trend. Right now, Nancy Pelosi barely holds control of Congress. It is almost a dead split - like it is in the US Senate. And so how do we gain control? We've got to flip the house, we got to make sure that people like myself and Donald Trump Jr. and President Trump and other supporters are out there campaigning for Republican leaders who believe in the America First agenda and that they are pushing the conservative movement forward. And we’ll retake the House. We got to take the leadership. And Kevin McCarthy, who is the House Minority leader right now, will become the majority leader. You can see right now how we’re making it very difficult for Joe Biden to put any agenda through, because it’s got to go through the House, which they’ve got, but it also has to go through the Senate, which is essentially a dead split. Of course, we do know that the Vice President, if it came down to a 50/50 split, would be able to cast a vote as the President of the Congress.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    pastor, US, GOP, Donald Trump
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