Republican Donor Retreat Reveals Doubts About Trump but No One Who Can Replace Him

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

Big-dollar Republican donors met at the luxury Four Seasons Resort in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend, and the number one topic of conversation was what — if anything — should the whales do about Donald Trump?


“I don’t think he can win in 2024,” said New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu in an interview. “You don’t have to be angry about it. You don’t have to be negative about it. I think you just have to be willing to talk about it and bring real solutions to the table.”

Sununu is seriously considering a run for the nomination, and his analysis may be somewhat self-interested. But he’s not the only high-profile politician to say that Trump simply can’t win in 2024 and having him on the ticket would be a disaster.

“Voters wanted to hear about what Republicans were doing to help them fight through 40-year high inflation,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, speaking to donors Saturday morning inside the luxury resort. “Not months and months of debate over whether the 2020 election was stolen.”

Kemp warned that “not a single swing voter” will vote for a GOP nominee making such claims, calling 2020 “ancient history.”

There is a large number of GOP voters who can’t get enough of having their grievances about the 2020 election stroked by Trump. This is evidenced by the national polls showing Trump far ahead.

“Poll after poll [shows] President Trump crushing the competition, there is no doubt whoever stands in his way will get eviscerated,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung told Politico.


Certainly, Trump’s challengers would love to have the party talk about something else besides 2020. But stopping Trump from claiming the nomination is proving to be a task that’s out of their reach.

So far, a solution to stopping Trump has proved elusive to donors and operatives who have claimed for years they were trying to do just that.

Other likely primary opponents of Trump, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), were also invited to the RNC gathering but declined due to scheduling conflicts. Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson, who called for Trump to drop out of the race post-indictment, and a sunglasses-clad Perry Johnson, a Michigan businessman running for president, also received invitations. Hutchinson and Johnson buzzed around the retreat, but did not have speaking slots.

“They’re sorting through it,” Hutchinson said, referring to how donors here and party activists elsewhere have responded to officials like Kemp, Sununu, himself and others who say the party must avoid a repeat of the 2020 general election. “But they’ve got to hear that message, and it’s like realism is coming to the party. And it takes people actually having the courage to say it before people will face that reality.”


Hutchison is an actually declared candidate whose call for Trump to drop out after his indictment landed with a thud in most Republican circles.

“How in God’s name could Donald Trump be portrayed as a victim? But it’s being done,” one GOP major donor told Politico.

The donor charged that Trump as the 2024 nominee “would lose even against Biden, which is tragic in its own sense,” but raised doubts about whether other candidates like Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, and Mike Pompeo had the strength to win the general election.

And that’s the donors’ problem. Trump may be his own worst enemy, but there literally is no one else with the stature, the following, or the pugnaciousness to take on the Democrats in the general election.

There’s certainly no one at the Four Seasons in Nashville who could do it.


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