(WASHINGTON) — This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, an erstwhile cross section of the GOP that has turned into a major staging ground for the party’s MAGA grassroots, is set to kick off in full force on Thursday.

The four-day conference, which formally started on Wednesday before big events begin Thursday, is expected to continue its relatively new legacy of vociferous support for former President Donald Trump and opposition toward his perceived enemies, both within and outside the Republican Party.

This year’s gathering is taking place in an election year when Trump looks set to coast to his third straight GOP nomination while promising “retribution” — and weighing who he might pick to join him on the Republican ticket this November.

All the while, the conference, much like the party, is delving into the nation’s culture wars.

Here are three things to watch at this year’s CPAC, which is set to attract notable names beyond Trump himself:

How much ‘retribution’ do Republicans want?

Trump vowed to Republicans at a rally in Waco, Texas, last year that he would be “your retribution” — a position he has since echoed and also sought to downplay.

But many of his supporters have sounded eager for him to make good on his promise, though it’s unclear how much revenge they’re looking for, either inside the GOP or in the federal government, if Trump is elected again.

Trump will speak to the crowd on Saturday, and the schedule is packed with his allies. Their remarks could help illuminate how much they and the base want to punish Democrats or government bureaucrats whom Trump has derided as the “deep state,” should Trump retake the White House later this year.

Already, the former president has expressed interest in firing swaths of the government’s career civil servants, falsely accusing them of broadly undermining his agenda while he was in office. He’s also floated going after President Joe Biden in retaliation for some of the criminal charges he faces, indictments that were brought by independent prosecutors but that he and his followers claim were politically motivated. He has pleaded not guilty.

CPAC in recent years has bragged about not inviting Sen. Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee-turned-Trump critic, and speaker slots in recent years have been reserved for those allied with the former president.

Now, the conference is taking place after Trump dispatched with a slate of primary challengers, none of whom came particularly close to supplanting him atop the polls or as de facto GOP leader.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who suspended his own presidential campaign after running as a Trump cheerleader, is the only other former candidate taking the stage.

A spate of vice president auditions

With Trump cruising to victory in the initial nominating races in states like Iowa and Nevada, increased attention is being paid to who could join him on the 2024 GOP ticket — and many of the would-be contenders are slated to speak at CPAC in the next few days.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik (a member of her party’s House leadership) and Ohio Sen. JD Vance are among those speaking at CPAC who are thought to be in the vice-presidential conversation.

The conference marks one of the first cattle calls where multiple would-be running mates are in attendance, marking CPAC as an audition of sorts in front of the heart of Trump’s base.

CPAC is also including a vice presidential question on its straw poll for the first time in at least 10 years.

It’s not clear yet who will be featured in the non-scientific survey.

Picking battles in the culture war

Republicans in Washington are in the middle of a slew of policy debates, from Ukraine aid to government funding to the country’s spying powers. But if this year’s CPAC reflects the way the conference has gone in recent years, there will be an intense focus on culture war issues that reflect some of the base’s priorities.

Though there will certainly be discussions on foreign aid and abortion, among other things, the conference is also stocked with panels addressing the right’s grievance on issues like education and more, including talks on “Would Moses Go To Harvard?”, “Trump’s Wall Vs. Biden’s Gaps” and “Putting Our Heads in the Gas Stove,” referencing the often-cited and hyperbolic GOP complaint that Democrats are pushing families to use electric stoves.

CPAC this year chose Ramaswamy to headline its vaunted Ronald Reagan Dinner — which, if similar to the way Ramaswamy ran his presidential campaign, will focus on a potential wholesale revamp of the federal government and what he calls the disintegration of the family unit in America.

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