Addressing key Republican National Committee donors on Saturday, former President Donald Trump revived false claims that he won the election and called Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell a “stupid son of a bitch” for his efforts to drive the results to discard, had not supported.
His remarks, taken at a gathering usually used by GOP leaders to reflect on their party’s recent loss of the White House and Senate, underscored his continued dedication to sowing discord and spreading disinformation within a party, which is still largely in danger to him.
The location of the RNC donor retreat suggests Trump’s strong influence on the party. Most of the events were held at a Four Seasons resort just 10 minutes’ drive south of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. On Saturday night, attendees – which included not just fundraisers, but Republican party officials and lawmakers – were brought to Mar-a-Lago to attend Trump’s private speech.
During his address, Trump remained true to his typical rhetorical style – he bragged about himself and his balance sheet, attacked perceived opponents or underly loyal Republicans, and made inflammatory comments that signaled a disinterest in reassessing the costs of his divisive stance towards politics.
Trump appeared to have got stuck with Republicans who did not side with his campaign against election results based on false claims of electoral fraud, slamming politicians like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who opened Trump’s motions Rejected changing the votes of the state electoral college or otherwise upsetting Georgia’s election results.
The former president reserved much of his poison for McConnell, whom he described as an “ice-cold loser” and criticized for not blocking the certification of the 2020 election results.
“If it were Schumer instead of that stupid son of a bitch, Mitch McConnell, they would never let it. They would have fought against it, “said Trump, according to the Washington Post.
Trump also tried for no reason to acknowledge the breakthroughs in Covid-19 vaccines and came up with the idea of calling them “Trumpcine,” the Post reports.
In a gesture that shows his utter commitment to his inflammatory political style and propensity to use racist tropes to express sentiment against immigrants, Trump said of immigrants, “They are from the Middle East. They don’t send their best people. You have murderers, you have rapists, you have drug dealers. “
In 2015 he said something very similar about Mexican immigrants: “[Mexico] send people who have many problems and they bring those problems to us. They bring drugs and crime and their rapists. ”
The Republican Party knows Trump is risky, but they need him now
Trump’s speech probably didn’t surprise anyone in the room, but it brought home the predicament the GOP finds itself in. On the one hand, the Republican Party’s elites know that his predilection for fighting – with the media, with GOP politicians who fail to submit to him, with anyone who criticizes him – can act as a liability for the party, creating division creates and alienates moderates. Trump, on the other hand, is still very popular with the grassroots, and the party doesn’t think it can afford to turn its back on him.
Trump’s fixation on McConnell, the most influential Republican lawmaker in Congress, is a reminder of how Trump can wreak havoc in the medium term. He has already vowed to do so – during the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he said the party should “get rid of” any Republican in Congress who voted to indict or convict him. He has already endorsed major Republican challengers to incumbent Republicans in the House of Representatives, such as Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who joined the impeachment vote against him.
Trump’s behavior suggests the Republican Party could fight on two fronts in the medium term – against Democrats and Trump-backed candidates who are supposed to take out seated Republican incumbents.
But Trump is still very popular with much of the party’s base
A Reuters / Ipsos poll conducted in late March shows that 60 percent of Republicans believe Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him – and about 65 percent say he should run for president again in 2024.
Because of this popularity and trust, the RNC has established its retreat near Mar-a-Lago and used it as a headliner. This is also why the organization uses Trump’s image to raise funds – something that led Trump to issue an injunction.
Trump’s interest in 2024 is also great. While he didn’t offer any new information on whether he was seriously considering running for another term as president in 2024, he wasn’t ruling it out either. This ambiguity, in turn, puts pressure on the hopefuls of 2024 to define their candidacies in relation to him, whether that means defying or sticking to his right-wing populist style and values.