The Republican Party’s fledgling class of 2024, buoyant as ever, openly portrayed Donald Trump as a “loser” on Friday as he raised concerns about the GOP’s future under the former president’s leadership. Presented to donors and workers.
Trump’s vocal critics included current and former Republican governors, members of his own cabinet and major donors who gathered along the Las Vegas strip for what organizers billed as the unofficial kickoff to the next presidential primary season. It was a remarkable show of defiance for a party that has been almost entirely defined by its loyalty to Trump for the past six years.
“Maybe there’s a little blood in the water and the sharks are circling,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, himself a Republican presidential candidate and frequent Trump critic, said in an interview. “I don’t think we’ve ever been to that point before.”
The gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, which began Friday, comes just days after Trump became the first candidate to officially launch his 2024 campaign. His allies had hoped his early announcement could stave off serious primary challenges, but several potential candidates said it was unlikely after Trump loyalists lost midterm contests in battleground states from Arizona to Pennsylvania last week. do not have. His political standing within the GOP, already weakened, further declined.
Ahead of his address Friday night, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo under Trump mocked one of his former boss’ slogans: “We were told we’d be tired of winning. But I’m tired of losing.”
“Personality, celebrity just doesn’t do it,” he said later from the ballroom stage.
Trump is scheduled to address the weekend gathering via video conference on Saturday. The majority of high-profile Republican officials considering a 2024 White House bid appeared in person at the two-day conference, which included a series of private donor meetings and public speeches.
The program included DeSantis and Pence, one of Trump’s leading rivals, whom Trump accuses of overturning the 2020 election. Other speakers included Hogan, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununo and Florida Sen. Rick Scott.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, another potential 2024 contender, canceled his appearance after Sunday’s shooting at the University of Virginia that left three people dead.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who could become House speaker when Republicans take office in January, is also scheduled.
There appears to be little sympathy for Trump’s latest legal challenges.
Hours before Friday’s inauguration dinner, Attorney General Merrick Garland oversaw the Justice Department’s investigation into key aspects of a separate investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, coup and attempted coup, along with the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate. Appointed a special counsel for To nullify the 2020 election.
Sanono, the New Hampshire governor who won re-election handily last week, said there was no sign his party would rally to Trump’s defense this time around.
“These are his issues that have to be addressed,” Sunono said. “Everybody’s going to sit back and watch the show. And it’s not just his supporters — it’s his money, it’s donors, it’s fundraising,” said the Republican governor, who won re-election easily last week. are going to do.” “We’re just moving forward.”
With a loyal base of support among rank-and-file voters and an extensive fundraising operation comprised of small-dollar contributions, Trump doesn’t need big donors or party leaders to push for the GOP nomination for a third term. But the unwillingness of big-money Republicans to commit to him — at least, for now — could make his path back to the White House more difficult.
There was no sign of enthusiasm for Trump’s 2024 presidential aspirations in the hallways and conference rooms of the weekend gathering. At Friday night’s dinner, organizers offered attendees yarmulkes with Trump’s name on them, but takers were few.
This is even as Jewish Republicans continue to praise Trump’s commitment to Israel while in the White House.
Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said, “There is no question that what President Trump has done in his four years in strengthening the US-Israel relationship is unprecedented. He is the most Israel has ever done. Nawaz was the president.”
But that won’t be enough to win over the coalition’s top donors this time around.
“For a lot of people who are attending this conference, it’s about the future,” Brooks said. “And for some of them, President Trump may be their answer. For others, they’re interested in what others have to say.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie weighed in on Trump’s political failings during a private dinner with the group’s top donors on Thursday. In a subsequent interview, he didn’t back down.
“I think he’s a loser now. He’s an election loser,” said Christie, another 2024 prospect. “You look at a typical voter, I don’t think there’s a Democrat he can beat because he’s toxic to suburban voters on a personal level now, and he’s earned it.”
The annual event is being held at the Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip to honor Sheldon Adelson, a longtime Republican Jewish Coalition aide, a billionaire casino magnate who died last year. His wife, Mary Adelson, remains a fundraising force within the GOP, although her giving levels, which topped $20 million in the recent midterm elections, were somewhat reduced.
Israeli-born Miriam Adelson, 76, is “staying neutral” in the GOP’s 2024 presidential primary, according to Andy Abboud, the family’s longtime political gatekeeper.
She is not alone.
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, has supported Trump’s previous campaigns but has no plans to endorse him in 2024, according to a Lauder spokesman.
Longtime Trump supporter Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of investment firm Blackstone Group, told Axios this week that he would support someone from the “new generation” of Republicans. Kenneth C. Griffin, the hedge fund billionaire, is already openly supporting DeSantis.
On Friday, aerospace CEO Philip Friedman called himself a “big Trump supporter,” but said he was open to hearing from others going forward.
“There are some other people who have his policies but don’t have the stuff,” Friedman said of Trump.
In his keynote address, Pence focused largely on the accomplishments of the Trump administration, but included a few indirect jabs at the former president.
“To win the future,” Pence said, “we as Republicans and elected leaders must do more than criticize and complain.”
He was more direct in an interview this week.
“I think we’ll have better choices in 2024,” Pence told The Associated Press. “And I’m very confident that Republican primary voters will choose wisely.”