Former President Trump’s grievance-filled rant during the RNC’s spring donor retreat over the weekend, which included his ongoing attacks against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), appeared to draw lukewarm responses from some Republicans.
While delivering a speech during the RNC event on Saturday night at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Trump reportedly derided McConnell as a “dumb son of a bitch” for not opposing the November election results following the then-Senate majority leader’s months-long jaunt egging on the then-president’s falsehoods of widespread fraud. McConnell initially scolded Trump on the Senate floor for inciting the mob behind the deadly Capitol insurrection on the day of the joint session of Congress certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.
“If that were [Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer] instead of this dumb son of a bitch Mitch McConnell they would never allow it to happen. They would have fought it,” Trump said, referring to the joint session of Congress certifying Biden’s formal victory, according to the Washington Post.
Trump’s latest swipe at McConnell is a continuation of the former president’s grudge against the Senate minority leader. The former president has also threatened to primary the Senate minority leader’s allies as a result of McConnell pinning the blame on Trump for inciting the mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6.
According to Politico Playbook on Sunday, Trump’s broadsides against McConnell on the final night of the RNC’s spring donor retreat fell flat. Few attendees reportedly applauded when Trump took aim at McConnell and former Vice President Mike Pence for certifying Biden’s election victory. Attendees apparently weren’t fond of Trump’s re-runs of his usual grievances against Republicans who voted to convict him during his second impeachment trial and falsehoods of widespread election fraud.
“It was horrible, it was long and negative,” one attendee with a donor at the event told Politico Playbook. “It was dour. He didn’t talk about the positive things that his administration has done.”
The Post similarly reported that some of the GOP donors who attended Trump’s speech were fed up with the former president’s replaying of his “greatest hits.” The long-winded rant reportedly received mixed reviews, with some donors leaving for a bus back to the hotel in the middle of Trump’s remarks.
“There was nothing new. It was just the greatest hits,” one person at the event said, according to the Post. “And it was really nasty.”
While Republican lawmakers such as Sen. John Thune (R-SD) — against whom Trump threatened to endorse a primary challenger — shrugged off Trump’s renewed attack against McConnell during an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” other prominent Republicans bluntly criticized the former president the day after his appearance at the RNC’s spring donor retreat:
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY)
The House GOP conference chair, who became the target of intra-party backlash after voting to convict Trump for “incitement of insurrection” in January and was censured by her state’s Republican Party in the aftermath of that vote, was asked whether the former president is the best messenger for the GOP during an interview on CBS.
Cheney hammered into her criticism of Trump by taking aim at the former president for deploying the same rhetoric he used to incite his supporters ahead of the deadly Capitol insurrection.
“You know, as a party, we need to be focused on the future. We need to be focused on embracing the Constitution, not embracing insurrection,” Cheney said. “And I think it’s very important for people to realize that a fundamental part of the Constitution and of who we are as Americans is the rule of law. It’s the judicial process.”
Cheney dismissed baseless claims of a “stolen” election that Trump and his allies have espoused, and criticized the former president for using falsehoods of widespread election fraud to violate the Constitution.
“If you attack the judicial process and you attack the rule of law, you aren’t defending the Constitution. You’re at war with the Constitution,” Cheney said. “And for us as a party going forward, we have to embrace the Constitution and we also have to put forward positive solutions.”
Republican @RepLizCheney weighs in on former President Trump’s reported bombastic language at a GOP fundraiser Saturday, saying it’s the "same language he knows provoked violence on Jan. 6th…We need to be focused on embracing the Constitution, not embracing insurrection." pic.twitter.com/vRBtnRnZOY
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) April 11, 2021
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)
During an interview on CNN, Hutchinson was asked whether he has concerns over the GOP continuing to center itself around Trump’s grievances and false claims.
Hutchinson replied that Trump’s rhetoric that provokes division is anything but helpful for the Republican Party that hopes to regain its foothold on the national and state level.
“Well, anything that’s divisive is a concern and is not helpful for us fighting the battles in Washington and at the state level,” Hutchinon said. “In some ways, it’s not a big deal, what he said, but, at the same time, whenever it draws attention, we don’t need that.”
After saying that the GOP needs “unity” in order to overcome its loss of the majority on Capitol Hill, Hutchinson called on the Republican to return to its “principles” by stopping its “personality divisions” and pushing for a “smaller government.”
Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the Republican Party should remind itself: "Let's get back to our principles. Let's stop the personality divisions that we have and focus on, really, the historic role that we've played, which is a voice for smaller government." #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/2VxtlPvGfu
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) April 11, 2021