The Courier-Mail

‘Kiss my ring,’ the Don tells his rivals

Trump’s godfather play


WASHINGTON: Donald Trump has launched a withering attack on two senior Republican­s, using a speech in Florida to cement his position as the “godfather” of the party.

Clearly trying to assert his authority over the Republican Party, the former president, 74, told party donors that he was still “disappoint­ed” with Mike Pence after his vice-president affirmed that Joe Biden won the election last year.

The attack comes after Mr Pence, 61, launched a rightwing group to “promote the pro-freedom policies” of the past four years, in what has been interprete­d as the first steps towards his own presidenti­al run in 2024.

However, most venom was reserved for Mitch McConnell, 79, the most senior Republican in Congress. Mr Trump said the Senate minority leader was a “dumb son of a bitch”, attacking him for what he regarded as insufficie­nt support during his second impeachmen­t trial.

To cheers from donors and in front of several Republican senators, Mr Trump claimed credit for Senator McConnell winning his Kentucky seat. He also turned his fire on the senator’s wife, Elaine Chao, who served as Mr Trump’s transporta­tion secretary before resigning after a mob stormed the Capitol on January 6. “I hired his wife,” Mr Trump said. “Did he ever say thank you?”

The event was held in Palm Beach, Florida, a short drive from his Mar-a-Lago residence, in an indication of the strength of his grip over the Republican Party. A reception was later held at the resort.

Polls suggest that more than 80 per cent of the party’s members believe Mr Trump was denied victory in November as a result of fraud and fiddled ballots. There is no evidence to support the claims.

Deliberate­ly casting himself as the supreme kingmaker, Mr Trump said he wanted to talk “about the future of the Republican Party and what we must do to set our candidates on a course to victory.

“I stand before you this evening filled with confidence that in 2022 we are going to take back the House and reclaim the Senate,” he said. “And then in 2024, a Republican candidate is going to win the White House.”

Mr Trump returned to familiar themes, attacking Mr Biden for his immigratio­n policy. He also criticised Anthony Fauci, 80, the chief medical adviser to the president. “Have you ever seen anybody that is so full of crap?” he asked.

He has been uncharacte­ristically coy since leaving office over whether he intends to run again, saying that he will make a decision after the mid-term elections next year.

Instead he endorses other Republican candidates and attacks those deemed disloyal to him. It could be another 18 months before Trump announces his plans for 2024.

 ??  ?? Trump and Pence.
Trump and Pence.

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