At least half a dozen current and prospective Republican presidential hopefuls are set to speak at the Club for Growth’s annual donor retreat this week, a list that includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley — but not former President Trump.
In additional to DeSantis and Haley, the Club will also host former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, according to a person familiar with the plans. All of these are seen as possible contenders for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nod.
Also speaking at the gathering are Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who has ruled out a presidential run, and newly minted White House hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy, a wealthy entrepreneur and conservative activist who announced a campaign for the Republican nomination last week.
Two other potential White House candidates, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were invited to speak at the donor retreat, but are unable to attend, the person said.
The speaking roster means that Trump will be the only already-declared 2024 hopeful not in attendance at the retreat, which is set to take place from Thursday to Saturday in Palm Beach, Fla.
The retreat also coincides with the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington, D.C. Several current and potential presidential hopefuls — including Trump, Haley, Pompeo and Ramaswamy — are set to address that gathering this week.
While the retreat will be a notably smaller and more exclusive affair than CPAC, it’s also seen as a prime opportunity for current and would-be candidates to introduce themselves to donors.
Still, Trump’s omission from the speaker list at the Club’s annual donors retreat underscores his isolation from a group that he once worked closely with — and one that remains influential in conservative politics.
The relationship between Trump and the Club soured last year, and he and the Club backed opposing candidates in the GOP Senate primary in Ohio. Trump’s decision to rescind his endorsement of former Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary also caused friction between him and the Club, which continued to stand behind Brooks.
The Club also released a batch of polling in November, just ahead of Trump’s announcement that he would seek the White House again in 2024, showing DeSantis beating the former president among Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that will kick off the GOP’s presidential nominating contest next year.
Speaking to reporters earlier this month, the Club’s president, David McIntosh, said that while his group would still back Trump if the former president emerges as the GOP nominee, he was concerned about Trump’s prospects of winning a general election in 2024.
“I worry when we get into a general election that if Trump’s the nominee, they’re going to be able to take a chunk of Republican votes and deny them because they’re just solidly committed not to vote for Trump,” McIntosh said.