It was supposed to be a unifying weekend for a Republican Party at war with itself over former President Donald Trump’s divisive leadership. But Trump himself shattered two days of relative peace in his closing remarks to the GOP’s top donors when he insulted 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 emphasise his commitment to his party and Republican unity.
Trump veered sharply from prepared remarks yesterday and instead slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as a “stone-cold loser”, a “dumb son of a b—-” 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 authorised 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.
Trump’s words left some attendees feeling uncomfortable.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did not defend Trump as he left Palm Beach today.
“We are much better off if we keep focusing on the Democrats. Period,” Gingrich said.
Yesterday’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.
While a significant faction of the Republican Party hopes to move past Trump’s divisive leadership, the location of the event — and the former president’s prominent speaking slot — suggests that the GOP, at least for now, is not ready to replace Trump as its undisputed leader and chief fundraiser.
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, a sharp break from past presidents.
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