Trump 2024 rivals court his donors at big Las Vegas meeting


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Republicans considering a run for the White House are courting anxious donors and activists in Las Vegas this weekend, as the GOP’s early 2024 class warns that former President Donald Trump is “a loser” and encourages the party to embrace new leadership.

Trump will be one of the few Republican prospects not in attendance for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, which organizers suggest marks the unofficial beginning of the 2024 presidential primary campaign season.

Trump will speak, but just by video conference, while leading rivals including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence will deliver keynote addresses in person.

The gathering, which began Friday, comes just days after Trump became the first candidate to formally launch a 2024 campaign. His allies initially hoped his early announcement might ward off serious primary challenges, but that’s not likely after his loyalists lost midterm contests last week in battleground states from Arizona to Pennsylvania. His political standing within the GOP, already weakening, plummeted further.

“Maybe there’s a little blood in the water and the sharks are circling,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican presidential prospect himself who has long been a Trump critic.

Last week’s midterm results, Hogan said, have given more Republican leaders the confidence to voice similar concerns. “I don’t think we’ve ever gotten to this point before.”

Trump is also facing new legal jeopardy.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday named a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate as well as key aspects of a separate probe involving the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and efforts to undo the 2020 election.

Still, there’s plenty of praise for the former president.

“There’s no question that what President Trump accomplished over his four years in terms of strengthening the the U.S.-Israel relationship was unparalleled. He was the most pro-Israel president ever,” said Matt Brooks, the Republican Jewish Coalition’s executive director.

However, that may not be enough to win over the coalition’s leading donors this time, Brooks continued.

“For a lot of people who are attending this conference, this is about the future,” he said. “And for some of them, President Trump may be their answer. For others, they’re interested in what others have to say.”

With a sprawling fundraising operation featuring small-dollar contributions, Trump does not need major donors to reach for the GOP nomination a third time. But unwillingness by big-money Republicans to commit to him — at least, for now — could signal a much broader shift in a party that has been defined almost wholly by its allegiance to Trump for the past six years.

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s two-day speaking program features DeSantis, a leading Trump rival, and Pence, whom Trump blames for not overturning the 2020 election. Other speakers include Hogan, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, New Hampshire Gov. Chris…



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