The mood of the conference in Orlando – which began on Thursday – has been extremely pro-Trump, with loyalists including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his son Donald Trump Jr among the speakers. The 74-year-old former president was cheered by supporters when he appeared on stage at the Hyatt Regency Hotel more than an hour late. Many people in the crowd were not wearing masks. “I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together four years ago is far from over,” he said. “We are gathered this afternoon to talk about the future – the future of our movement, the future of our party, and the future of our beloved country.” He dismissed any idea that he might start a new political party – describing rumours he would do so as “fake news”. “Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Let’s start a new party so we can divide our vote and never win,” he joked.