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The America First Policy Institute (AFPI) is working to ensure that the GOP remains a populist party in the mold of former President Trump — even if a Republican occupies the next White House.

AFPI’s mission was evident this week at a two-day conference in Washington, DC, that drew GOP dignitaries from Capitol Hill and faraway state capitals, billed as a forum to present its platform ahead of the midterms and 2024.

“We will lay the groundwork for the return of the America First agenda,” said Brooke Rollins, president of the organization. “Hopefully America First Leaders [will be] Returning to the White House, Congress and State Houses.”

Although much of the conference centered around the present, the next presidential election was not far from the mind. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told AFPI that he opened the confab by saying he would “do over the next few years what the Heritage Foundation did” for President Reagan by influencing the direction of government.

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Chad Wolf, executive director of the America First Policy Institute, said both policy and "personnel" are important as Republicans prepare for the next GOP administration, potentially after the 2024 election.

Chad Wolf, executive director of the America First Policy Institute, said both policy and “personnel” are important as Republicans prepare for the next GOP administration, potentially after the 2024 election.
(Tyler Olson and Harris Alick/Fox News)

Although Trump was the keynote speaker, AFPI’s brass repeatedly insisted they were laying the groundwork for a future Republican president.

“If President Trump decides to run, I think he will clear the field,” said former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. “But if he doesn’t decide to run, I guarantee the dozens of men and women running for president, the Republican nominee and the winner of the 2024 election, will be the one carrying the mantle proudly and loudly. The America First policy agenda.”

Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway speaks with Fox News Digital at the America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC

Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway speaks with Fox News Digital at the America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC
(Tyler Olson and Harris Alick/Fox News)

Much of the meeting focused on the group’s efforts to define what “America First” means when it comes to policy and ideology. Although Trump popularized the term during his 2016 presidential run, Republicans are still working to define it.

That reality allowed a large group of Republicans to embrace the slogan without having to commit to clear policies. Trump allies say the situation created tension between the former president and Congress and ultimately blocked parts of the administration’s agenda.

“I think this conference … will help shape where we want to go, but respect all the think tanks in town,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. “All the ideas in the world are totally worthless if there aren’t people in Congress who are willing to stand up and fight.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, speaks with Fox News Digital at the America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, speaks with Fox News Digital at the America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC

Some of AFPI’s leadership, many of whom served in the Trump administration, said they understand the problem. They say that’s partly why the organization works to craft the America First agenda and identify people with enough commitment to staff the next Republican White House.

Advocates say a policy agenda is not only an opportunity to define what America First means to the average voter, but also a platform for candidates to adopt. By doing so, they commit to helping implement at least part of it when elected.

WATCH: Protesters disrupt America First Agenda summit ahead of Trump’s speech

The strategy hopes that if Trump — or whoever the GOP nominates in 2024 — wins the next election, that person will face less resistance to enacting legislation and regulations.

In laying the groundwork for the next GOP president, AFPI says its mission is guided by two simple principles: what’s in the best interest of Americans and, more practically, what can actually be accomplished.

“As we craft these policies, it’s most important to make sure that we’re actually advocating for effective, enforceable policies that not only put America first in our policy and our decision-making,” he said. Chad Wolf, acting secretary of homeland security under Trump.

Not everyone is on board with AFPI’s maneuver to create an America First agenda. Peter Navarro, who served as Trump’s trade policy adviser, launched an attack on the organization in an op-ed published the day the former president was scheduled to speak.

“Yes, it is important for President Trump to build a 2024 platform and have a steady stable of policy experts capable of finding solid MAGA talent to expand the new Trump administration,” Navarro wrote on the conservative website American Greatness. “But the AFPI Trojan Horse – whose leadership is now bragging about how it works for Trump’s ‘shadow cabinet’ – is certainly not.”

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Some of AFPI’s brass were quick to play down the infighting among former Trump staffers, noting that the former president chose to attend the conference.

“Obviously, President Trump disagrees with that,” Conway said. “He’s here.”