Trump gets warm reception at Republican gathering as rivals lash out

5. Trump
US former president Donald Trump speaks virtually at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 19, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
LAS VEGAS, United States Donald Trump received a standing ovation at a Republican Party gathering Saturday, even as several possible White House rivals lashed out at his election denialism and insisted it was time to move on from the former US president.اضافة اعلان

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 insisted once again that the 2020 presidential was rigged, and rejected responsibility for the GOP’s poor performance in the November midterms.

In 2020 “we had a really disgraceful election, many millions of votes more than we had in 2016 ... and the result was, in my opinion, an absolute sham,” he told the audience by video link.

“The election was rigged, and it’s too bad it was.”

Asked about how he could improve the party’s appeal to suburban voters, among whom it did badly in this month’s midterms, Trump insisted he had a record of picking winners.

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

With the midterms in the rear-view mirror, the Las Vegas event served as a catwalk for potential Trump rivals ahead of the Republican Party primaries to decide who will fight for the presidency in 2024.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is emerging as one of Trump’s main rivals, closed the meeting with a speech praising his midterms performance.

“We dominated with independent voters, we secured record margins with Hispanic voters. We swept the suburbs all across the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

‘Joy and a smile’
Many rivals hit out at Trump’s grievance-laden style of politicking, which Republican Party operatives have said was to blame for their tepid showing on November 8.

New Jersey’s former governor and one-time Trump confidante Chris Christie said candidate quality had been the issue.

“Donald Trump picked candidates with one criteria. ... ‘Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen or not?’ If you do I endorse you. If you don’t I reject you,” he said.

Trump did not address the potential rivals in his appearance on Saturday, but has already begun his customary bomb-throwing about potential presidential competitors, dubbing DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious” and saying Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s name “sounds Chinese”.

The gathering, which also featured an address by Israel’s prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, runs until Sunday.

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