Conservative groups look beyond Trump for 2024 GOP nominee – KGET 17

NEW YORK (AP) – Two major conservative groups have signaled they are open to supporting someone other than Donald Trump in the 2024 race for the White House, the latest sign from an increasingly vocal segment of the Republican Party that it’s time to move on. former president.

David McIntosh, president of the influential group Club For Growth, said Tuesday that the group has invited a half-dozen potential Republican candidates to its donor summit in Florida next month, but Trump — the only declared front-runner in the race so far — is not among them.

Instead, the group invited Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, considered Trump’s most formidable challenger, along with Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador; former Vice President Mike Pence; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina; and Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin.

“We think it would be great for our members to hear them, see what they have to say, where they want to take the country,” McIntosh said in an interview.

His comments came after a memo released over the weekend by the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity said the group was ready to back someone other than Trump in the GOP primary.

Tensions between Trump and both groups are not new, but their willingness to engage on behalf of the other candidate can only embolden at least half a dozen potential rivals who are considering campaigns. Haley is expected to announce her 2024 campaign next week in South Carolina.

Both groups join a handful of megadonors who have signaled in recent months that they are looking elsewhere for a presidential candidate.

Trump is facing a series of legal problems and has been blamed for the GOP’s underwhelming performance in last year’s midterm elections. However, he remains the most dominant figure in the party and has been a prolific fundraiser, relying on a network of small donors.

Asked for comment Tuesday, the Trump campaign pointed to messages on his Truth Social network in which he called McIntosh’s organization the “No Growth Club.” He later posted an additional message on Tuesday calling the group “a bunch of political misfits, globalists and losers.”

Club For Growth, an anti-tax group, opposed Trump during his 2016 campaign but became a major ally after he won the White House. But the group has been at odds with Trump over the past year after backing opposing candidates in Republican primaries, particularly in the Ohio and Pennsylvania Senate races.

McIntosh said the group is open to endorsing a Republican presidential candidate, potentially running ads on their behalf. But he made it clear that the group would support Trump in the general election if he becomes the nominee.

“One of the factors we take into account is that the Democrats used it successfully in the last election to win many races,” he said. “It makes sense in all of this that we want to make sure that whoever we nominate can win the presidential race and people want to see that.”

Americans For Prosperity, founded by the billionaire industrialists the Koch brothers, has long clashed with Trump. Their considerable network refused to support him or any candidate in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

Trump has lashed out at the brothers in the past, calling them a “total joke” and “globalists” who are “against strong borders and strong trade.”

In a new memorandum, the group said “the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter.” It said the AFP’s political advocacy arm was ready to back a candidate in the GOP primary “who can take our country forward and who can win” — with the added emphasis on “win.”

A spokesman for the group did not offer further details about the process, including when the organization might make a decision on who to endorse and which candidates might receive the group’s endorsement.

The free-market pro-business group spent more than $30 million on advertising against President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. AFP’s political arm spent nearly $80 million in the 2022 midterm elections on behalf of House and Senate candidates, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

After more candidates enter the race in the coming months, the AFP is expected to go through a comprehensive vetting process based on each candidate’s political positions. The organization has long refused to endorse Trump because he was not considered conservative enough on trade and federal spending, among other issues.

But the AFP will also prioritize sustainability as a key factor in the approval process. In doing so, the AFP — considered the largest and best-funded organization in the country — could help narrow the Republican field in 2024 by starving lower-ranking candidates of funding and attention.

Trump’s critics within the GOP fear the former president could benefit from a crowded field that ultimately divides the anti-Trump vote in early primary states.


Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this report.

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