Enterprise-Record (Chico)

Conservati­ve groups look beyond Trump for 2024 GOP nominee

- By Michelle L. Price

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 from the former president.

David McIntosh, the president of the influentia­l Club For Growth group, 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 major candidate in the race so far — is not among them.

Instead, the group has invited Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is viewed as Trump’s most formidable likely 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; Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina; and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

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

His comments came on the heels of a memo released over the weekend by the conservati­ve advocacy group Americans For Prosperity that said the group was prepared to support someone other than Trump in the GOP primary.

Tensions between Trump and both groups are not new, but their willingnes­s to get involved on behalf of another candidate may only encourage 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 several megadonors who have

signaled in recent months that they’re looking elsewhere for a presidenti­al nominee.

Trump is facing a swirl 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 a been a prolific fundraiser, relying on a network of small donors.

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

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

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

“One of the factors that we’re taking into account is that the Democrats successful­ly used him in the last election to win a lot of races,” he said. “There’s a sense in all of this that we want to make sure whoever we nominate can win in the presidenti­al race and people want to see that.”

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

Trump in the past has lashed out at the brothers, calling them a “total joke” and “globalists” who are “against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade.”

In the new memo, 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 political advocacy arm of AFP is prepared to support a candidate in the GOP primary “who can lead our country forward, and who can win” — with an added emphasis on “win.”

A spokespers­on for the group did not offer any further details about the process, including when the organizati­on might make a decision on whom to endorse and which candidates might win the group’s backing.

 ?? ALEX BRANDON — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE ?? Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia on Jan. 28.
ALEX BRANDON — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia on Jan. 28.

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