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Washington, May 2 – Major Republican donors gathered in Nashville to pick and fund a candidate worthy of competing with incumbent President Joe Biden who is also seeking a second term in office. Although former President Donald Trump got top billing, he was nowhere near the dream of achieving the Republican coronation.
Just 24 hours before the Nashville event on Saturday, the Republican National Committee (RNC), which releases funds for the party candidate, gave an opportunity for the loudest of Trump’s critics to have their say, media reports said.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who refused to swing with Trump during his interference in the state elections to declare it null and void in 2020, told the donors: “Not months and months of debate over whether the 2020 election was stolen.”
Without mentioning Trump’s name, Kemp pinned blame on the former President’s election loss grievances and warned that “not a single swing voter” will vote for a Republican nominee making such claims, calling 2020 “ancient history”.
Kemp was singled out for ire by Trump like he did with his former deputy Mike Pence, for not reversing the 2020 verdict, but they actually represent a sizable section of the Republican Party seeking to resist Trump’s stranglehold over the party.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu is also refusing to toe Trump’s line and so does former Pence.
While Trump held his own private meetings out of sight–� all three were given prime speaking slots, media outlet Politico reported.
It’s interesting to note that while the party recognises the former President as a frontrunner against Biden in 2024, it still invited Trump dissenters and even prospective rivals for next year’s race.
This trend evidences the feelings of the party about Trump, still a heavy weight within the Republicans, has first place in the polls, but still many months of fighting are still ahead of him.
His potential nomination is unlikely to come as a coronation, political strategists from across the aisle on both sides feel as Trump carries a whole lot of legal baggage though most Republicans support him against the odds.
However, the scenario is quite different with the potential — the party’s donors as they are still weighing their options on if there is a more powerful alternative to Trump capable of defeating Biden at the polls. There is still no consensus emerging on Trump or a powerful alternative (Florida Governor Ron DeSantis), reports said.
Governor Sununu talking in the foyer of the Four Seasons Hotel in Nashville said of Trump: “I don’t think he can win in 2024. You don’t have to be angry about it. You don’t have to be negative about it. I think you just have to be willing to talk about it and bring real solutions to the table.”
Meanwhile Trump spokesman Steven Cheung referenced a POLITICO report of Trump’s robust first-quarter fundraising and said, “Poll after poll (shows) former President Trump crushing the competition, there is no doubt whoever stands in his way will get eviscerated”.
Governor Kemp told the donors the Republican nominee “must” be able to win Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes in order to win the White House.
Kemp said the party has to win a general election. He referenced not just to Trump and his legal baggage but also to defeat this fall of Trump-backed and scandal-plagued candidates like Herschel Walker, who lost his race, even as Kemp defeated a well-funded Democratic challenger by nearly 8 points.
Most Republican donors and supporters felt that the solution to stopping Trump has proved elusive to donors and operatives who have claimed for years they were trying to do just that, reports said.
Other likely primary opponents of Trump, including DeSantis, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, were also invited to the RNC gathering, but they declined due to prior commitments.
An ardent Trump critic demanding his dropping out of the 2024 presidential race, former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson, and sunglasses-clad Perry Johnson, a Michigan businessman running for president, also received invitations.
Both Hutchinson and Johnson moved and lobbied around the venue but did not have speaking slots.