Social media users were quoting the Ten Commandments film and the Book of Exodus in droves on Friday, after video from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) revealed a golden idol-like statue of former U.S. president Donald Trump.
The video captured by a Bloomberg News reporter shows attendants wheeling a giant golden caricature of Trump into the conference hall, amid speculation that the 2020 election loser will announce another run during the three-day conference in Orlando, Fla.
The roughly human-sized statue depicts Trump with an oversized golden head and a big smile on his face. His body is made entirely of gold, and he is “dressed” in a shirt, tie and jacket, with star-spangled shorts instead of pants.
The statue appeared to be a hit with nearby attendees, including many who wore shirts from Trump’s losing 2020 presidential campaign.
“That is so cool,” one person can be heard saying.
“Four more years,” another chants.
More than three million people watched the video within the first 10 hours after it was posted.
Many used the footage as a springboard to criticize the Republican Party and its seemingly undying devotion to Trump, whom the House of Representatives impeached for inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol last month after losing the election to Joe Biden, in a rare defeat for an incumbent candidate.
Commentators, critics and journalists compared the statue to the story of the golden calf in Exodus — a Judeo-Christian tale of people worshiping a false god.
In the story, Moses climbs a mountain to receive the 10 Commandments from God after leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. His people camp out below the mountain, but they become restless without their leader’s guidance and eventually fashion a golden calf to worship.
Moses comes down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments written on two tablets, but he flies into a rage when he sees his people worshiping a false idol — something God explicitly forbids in one of the commandments. He smashes the tablets in his fury and rebukes everyone for straying from a righteous path.
Social media users compared the Old Testament and Torah story to the current state of the GOP heading into CPAC, as the party grapples with whether to find a new leader or double down on its defeated president for 2024.
“My God,” user Chuck Kourouklis wrote, in a reply that generated thousands of likes. “They have now made him a literal golden calf.”
Longtime Republican and Trump critic Bill Kristol, who served in the George H. W. Bush administration, called Trump “the golden calf of the GOP” on Twitter.
“Worshipping golden idols has never worked out well,” wrote Tara Setmayer, of the conservative anti-Trump Lincoln Project.
Others compared the statue’s proportions to Bart Simpson and Bob’s Big Boy, the giant grinning mascot for a U.S. burger chain.
Gold has always been closely associated with Trump’s brand, from his days as the real estate developer with a supposed “Midas touch,” to the golden Trump Tower setting featured in his reality show The Apprentice, to his design choices while he was living in the White House.
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The CPAC schedule includes several speakers who are expected to back Trump’s false narrative about election fraud. Trump’s lawyers failed to prove those claims after more than 50 defeats in court.
Matt Schlapp, chairman of CPAC and a Trump ally, said discussion panels on election integrity would highlight “huge” evidence of illegal voting in Georgia, Nevada and elsewhere that ultimately swung the election for Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump used the same baseless claims to fire up a crowd of his supporters in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, shortly before they stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election result. Trump was impeached for his role in the riot. A majority of senators found Trump guilty during the Senate trial, but the vote did not cross the two-thirds threshold needed to punish him for the incident.
Trump actions have created rifts in the party. Some Republicans denounced his rhetoric ahead of the riot, while others have called for those Republicans to be punished for not showing enough loyalty to their party leader.
The former president is slated to speak at the conference on Sunday, in his first public appearance since he departed the White House on Jan. 20.
“In many ways, this will be a throwback to 2016, where the president ran against Washington,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller told the Associated Press. “Here we’ll see the president address the fact that the only divide in the Republican Party is between the elites and the conservative grassroots in the party.”
Several other potential 2024 presidential candidates will appear at the conference, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota.
— with files from The Associated Press