PALM BEACH, Fla .– While announcing a weekend conference devoted to Republican unity, Donald Trump prepared wealthy Republicans with scathing attacks on GOP mainstays like Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence and others.
Trump again called McConnell a “loser” in his speech on Saturday night at the Republican National Committee’s spring retirement, and criticized Pence – his former vice president – for not supporting efforts to undo his defeat election against President Joe Biden, according to people in the room. .
The former president also echoed plans to endorse allies and target enemies in GOP primaries next year, threatening more party divisions ahead of the 2022 congressional election. Still, Trump told the richest donors to the party that they should continue their program in the next election.
“Our American First platform will bring the Republican Party back to power,” Trump said, according to a text of the speech.
Trump’s speech topped the RNC’s weekend ‘spring retreat’, a meeting devoted primarily to the idea of Republican unity – a difficult topic given Trump’s attacks on some party members after the election defeat from last year.
In addition to private talks all over the Four Seasons resort, Republican lawmakers and donors held roundtables on campaign plans on Saturday, before heading to Mar-a-Lago and the dinner hosted by Trump. On Sunday, the participants in the Republican retreat returned home.
The RNC shut down all press retreat activities, including an event on Saturday called the “Party Unity Panel”.
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In another deviation from previous former presidents, Trump endorses allies who show up in party primaries, often to strike back at Republicans who favored impeachment after the Jan. 6 uprising by pro-Trump protesters on the U.S. Capitol. .
Trump has also repeatedly attacked Republicans who have criticized his efforts to reverse his electoral defeat to President Joe Biden, particularly the Republican Senate leader and McConnell Party leader. He also pledged to back a main challenger next year to another speech target, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Other Republicans – including Representative Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., A member of the House GOP leadership who voted for impeachment – have urged the party to overtake Trump.
Active participation in the primaries – unusual for any high profile politician, especially a former president – threatens to divide the party, making it more difficult to win over tightly contested congressional districts and states.
Trump did not attack any Republican in the draft distributed before the speech. Two attendees, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a private event, said Trump described his prepared speech as “boring” and ignored the script to attack McConnell and others.
He called McConnell a “cold stone loser,” and drew gasps as he used vulgarism to describe the Senate GOP leader (a variation of the term “gun son”). He also mocked McConnell’s wife – his own former transportation secretary, Elaine Chao – who resigned following the Jan.6 uprising.
As for his vice president, Trump criticized Pence for refusing to delay the electoral vote count in his capacity as president of the US Senate. Pence said he did not have the legal authority to interfere with the compilation of electoral votes for the states that elected Biden.
The president also reiterated his unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud, accusations that were dismissed by judges, election officials and some Republican leaders. McConnell and others have said Trump’s false claims helped spark the Jan.6 insurgency.
By previewing his 2022 strategy, Trump has set fire to the Biden administration. He plans to attack the new president over immigration and border policy, relations with China, new talks on the Iran nuclear deal and delaying a televised speech in Congress.
Trump’s speech also targeted what he called “awakened societies,” including Major League Baseball for its decision to withdraw the All-Star Game from Atlanta due to new election laws in Georgia.
Predicting Republican victories in the Congressional races of 2022 and the presidential race of 2024 – if they follow his platform – Trump’s text repeated a 2020 campaign mantra: “For our party, our movement and our country, the best is yet to come. “
Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. – who has often called for party unity and made a special trip to Palm Beach two months ago to speak with Trump about the 2022 election – hosted a Friday night dinner at the RNC retreat in Palm Beach.
In his remarks, attendees said, McCarthy spoke about another key element of next year’s election: the design of new congressional districts. McCarthy also said Republicans should run against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and that “Nancy’s retirement” should be a major theme of the campaign.
Saturday’s unity panel featured Party Chairperson Ronna McDaniel and leaders of the Republican Congressional campaign arms: Republican Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Chairman of the Congressional Republican National Committee, and Senator Rick Scott, R -Fla., Who heads the Republican National Senate Committee.
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Planners devoted other Saturday panels to items most Republicans can agree on, including “Big Tech Censorship” and “Growing The Party.”
Party members who attended the retreat, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private meetings, said GOP members believed they could resolve issues between Trump and anti-Trump Republicans. “Our people still love him,” said one Republican.
The 2024 presidential race is also on the minds of some Republicans.
Potential presidential candidates who have signed up for retirement include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, and the two Florida Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.
There’s also Trump, who said it was too early to decide if he would run again in 2024.
Meanwhile, GOP members are optimistic about next year’s congressional election, as Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the House and Senate.
Democrats also have high hopes and are using the Republican retreat to try to raise money for their candidates.
In a fundraiser throughout the week, the Congressional Democratic campaign committee warned supporters that Trump’s “best buddies” had descended on Palm Beach to figure out how to spend more than their opponents.
“Trump and his Republicans are having their BIGGEST fundraiser of the year in Mar-a-Lago,” an email from the DCCC said on Saturday. “Elite GOP donors are flocking to raise the funds they will need to defeat our majority once and for all.”
Democrats, who plan to make Trump a stake in next year’s parliamentary election, have also made their presence felt in Palm Beach itself.
The Democratic National Committee sponsored a “mobile billboard” that transported South Ocean Boulevard between the Four Seasons and Mar-a-Lago, promoting the Biden administration’s efforts to end the COVID pandemic. “No thanks to the Republicans,” the billboard said.
DNC spokesman Ammar Moussa described donors and Republican politicians as “mini-trumps” hanging out in Mar-a-Lago, while Biden and the Democrats “deliver for all Americans. days”.
Some current and former members have said the Republican Party is already united: they firmly support Trump, and that could lead to defeats like the one he won in last year’s presidential election.
Trump’s control is evident because “anyone considering running for president makes the pilgrimage to Florida to embrace the ring and, more importantly, to echo Trump’s rhetoric,” Republican strategist Doug said. Hey.
“Those who criticized Trump – people like me – are the outliers,” Heye added.
Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman and now Trump critic, said GOP members who oppose the former president have either left the party or dropped out.
Walsh said: “It is a united party, getting smaller and smaller and dying.”