Trump receives a standing ovation at a Republican caucus as opponents lash out

Donald Trump received a standing ovation at a GOP rally on Saturday, even as several potential White House contenders criticized his refusal to vote and insisted it was time to dump the former US president.

In his first major appearance since announcing his intention to run again in 2024, Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas that the party had grown under his leadership.

The 76-year-old again falsely insisted that the 2020 presidential election — which he lost — was rigged, and denied responsibility for the GOP’s poor performance in November’s midterm elections.

In 2020, he told the audience via video link: “We had a truly disgraceful election, several million more votes than we got in 2016… The result was, in my opinion, an absolute sham.”

“The election was rigged, and it was very bad.”

Asked how to improve the party’s appeal to suburban voters, among whom the party did poorly in this month’s midterm elections, Trump insisted he had a record of picking winners.

He said, though, that the final vote tally has not yet been finalised.

“The Republican Party is a much bigger and stronger party than it was before I got there,” he said.

With the midterm elections in the rearview mirror, the Las Vegas event served as a showcase for potential Trump challengers ahead of the GOP primaries to decide who will fight for the presidency in 2024.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has emerged as one of Trump’s main challengers, closed the meeting with a speech praising his midterm performance.

We dominated independent voters, and achieved record margins with Hispanic voters. We swept across the suburbs all over Florida.

The crowd also heard from Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, who said she would think “in a serious way” about whether to launch a bid for the White House.

“I’ve been the underdog every time when people underestimate me, it’s always fun,” she said. But I never lost an election. I won’t start now.”

Joy and smile

Several rivals criticized Trump’s grievance-laden approach to politics, which GOP operatives said was responsible for their tepid November 8 appearance.

Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and former close friend of Trump, said the quality of the candidate was the issue.

Donald Trump chose the candidates by one criterion. Not electability, not experience, not wisdom, not charisma, not the ability to govern, but “Do you think the 2020 election has been stolen or not?” If you do, I support you. He said, “If you don’t, I will reject you.”

“The fact of the matter is the reason we lose is because Donald Trump has put himself in front of everyone else.”

Chris Sununu, the governor of New Hampshire, agreed.

I have great politics for the Republican Party. Let’s stop supporting crazy unelected candidates in our primaries.

On Friday night, Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who is also understood to be considering a run for the White House, urged fellow Republicans to be more forward-looking and more positive.

Although he didn’t mention his old boss by name, Pompeo made no subtle digs about the need for us to be doers rather than whiners.

“While we make the conservative case, while we argue…we do so with joy and a smile,” he said.

“We’re not simply attacking the machine… We’re not simply going to Fox News or sending out tweets, we’re actually doing the hard work.”

Trump didn’t address potential challengers in his Saturday appearance, but he’s already begun his usual bombshelling of potential presidential challengers, calling DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious” and saying Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s name “sounds Chinese.”

The meeting, which also included a speech by Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, will continue until Sunday.

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