Trump slammed Mitch McConnell as a “stone-cold loser” and said he was “disappointed” in his vice president, Mike Pence.
By Associated Press
During former President Donald Trump’s closing remarks to the GOP’s top donors during a weekend summit, he took shots at Republican figures, insulting the party’s Senate leader and his wife.
Ahead of the invitation-only speech at Trump’s new home inside his Mar-a-Lago resort, the former president’s advisers said he would emphasize his commitment to his party and Republican unity.
Trump slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as a “stone-cold loser” and mocked McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who was Trump’s transportation secretary.
Trump also said he was “disappointed” in his vice president, Mike Pence, and used a profanity in assessing McConnell, according to multiple people in attendance who were not authorized to publicly discuss what was said in a private session. He said McConnell had not thanked him properly for putting Chao, who was labor secretary under President George W. Bush, in his Cabinet.
McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did not defend Trump as he left Palm Beach on Sunday.
“We are much better off if we keep focusing on the Democrats. Period,” Gingrich said.
Saturday’s speech was the final address of the Republican National Committee’s weekend donor summit in Palm Beach. Most of the RNC’s closed-door gathering was held at a luxury hotel a few miles away from Mar-a-Lago; attendees were bused to Trump’s club for his remarks.
Ahead of his latest attack on fellow Republicans, Trump’s team reported that his remarks were intended to reinforce his continued leadership role in Republican affairs.
“Saturday’s speech will be welcomed words to the Republican donors visiting Mar-a-Lago to hear directly from President Trump,” Trump adviser Jason Miller said. “Palm Beach is the new political power center, and President Trump is the Republican Party’s best messenger.”
The new tension between Trump and establishment-minded Republican leaders comes as GOP officials are trying to play down an internal feud over his role in the party, his commitment to Republican fundraising and his plans for 2024. Trump also continues to insist that the last election was “stolen” from him by Joe Biden.
Such claims ultimately fueled the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
McConnell and Chao have been particularly critical of Trump’s role in that incident; Chao resigned her post in protest. Pence, meanwhile, presided over a congressional session that certified Biden’s election victory over Trump.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was among 10 House Republicans who joined every Democrat in voting to impeach Trump for inspiring the Jan. 6 attack. Seven Republican senators later voted to convict Trump, even after he had left office.
“The former president is using the same language that he knows provoked violence on Jan 6. As a party, we need to be focused on the future, we need to be focused on embracing the Constitution, not embracing insurrection,” Cheney told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Trump and his allies have already promised to fuel primary challenges against Cheney and those Republicans who supported his impeachment.
And while the Republican National Committee signaled its commitment to Trump by hosting its spring donor summit at his doorstep, Trump’s commitment to the GOP is far from certain.
Earlier in the year, he raised the possibility of creating a new political party. Just a month ago, Trump’s political action committee sent letters to the RNC and others asking them to “immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image, and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech.”
Trump has accumulated a total of roughly $85 million so far, a small fortune that rivals the RNC’s bank account. He has teased the prospect of another presidential run in 2024, but has also positioned himself to play the role of kingmaker for Republicans who may run if he does not.
The weekend gathering featured Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, among other early 2024 prospects.
Meanwhile, the second-ranking Republican senator, South Dakota’s John Thune, gently condemned Trump’s attack on McConnell.
“I think a lot of that rhetoric is — you know, it’s part of the style and tone that comes with the former president,” Thune said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But I think he and Mitch McConnell have a common goal, and that is getting the majority back in 2022. And in the end, hopefully that will be the thing that unites us, because if we want to defeat and succeed against the Democrats and get that majority back, that’s the best way to do it.”