VP Stakes: Trump meeting with potential running mates this weekend

Former President Donald Trump moves from the courtroom in New York City to the banquet rooms in South Florida on Friday, as he headlines a gathering of top Republican donors and teams up with potential running mates.

Trump starts his day in a Manhattan courtroom, where the former president is being tried on nearly three-dozen state felony charges for falsifying business records in relation to hush-money payments during the 2016 election he made to Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about his alleged affair with the adult film actress.

Trump has repeatedly denied falsifying business records as well as the alleged sexual encounter with Daniels.

But the conclusion of court on Friday will free the former president to travel home to Palm Beach, Florida, where he’ll be the main attraction at the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) Spring Donor Retreat.

The closed-to press gathering – held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palm Beach and at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club a few miles north – comes as he aims to close his fundraising gap with President Biden in their 2024 election rematch.

And listed as ‘special guests’ at the confab are a number of Republican politicians considered to be on Trump’s shortlist for running mate, according to an agenda of the weekend’s events obtained by Fox News.

‘This event takes on even greater significance in light of the fact that the President is constrained from travel due to his trial. While at the same time, Biden can travel all over the country to raise money,’ Republican Jewish Coalition CEO Matt Brooks told Fox News

Brooks, who has close ties to the GOP donor class, said that ‘major donors are stepping up now in a big way as we watch in horror the nightly images on TV of our country spiraling out of control.’ 

And he predicted that ‘this weekend will be a huge success.’

Among those listed as ‘special guests’ are possible running mates Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, JD Vance of Ohio, and Marco Rubio of Florida. So are Govs,. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and Kristi Noem from South Dakota. Two top Trump supporters in the House – Reps. Elise Seefanik of New York and Byron Donalds of Florida – will also be there, as will entrepreneur and former 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

Also attending the gathering are the recently Trump-installed leadership at the RNC – chair Michael Whatley and the former president’s daugther-in-law Lara Trump, who is co-chair of the national party committee. House Speaker Mike Johnson is also attending, as will a handful of top GOP Senate candidates.

While Trump’s team won’t say whether the former president will hold one-on-one meetings with the potential running mates during the weekend confab, it’s not hard to imagine that such encounters may occur.

While the appearance of the potential vice presidential candidates will grab media attention, those involved in the gathering say fundraising is the emphasis.

‘The events this weekend are really more about raising money for the presidential race than it is about auditions for the potential VP candidates,’ a Republican strategist with ties to Trump world told Fox News.

Trump campaign senior adviser Brian Hughes told Fox News the gathering ‘is certainly an opportunity for a collection of the most dynamic leaders of our common sense movement to demonstrate the winning messages we have to end Biden’s weak and dangerously dishonest presidency. Those who financially support President Trump and the America First agenda will see that they are helping save our nation with victory in November.’

The Biden campaign took aim at Trump ahead of the RNC donor retreat.

‘Donald Trump will spend the weekend off the campaign trail again, hiding behind closed doors with billionaire donors, boot lickers, abortion banners, Social Security cutters, and a puppy killer,’ Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer charged.

The ‘puppy killer’ reference was to South Dakota’s Noem, whose anecdote in her upcoming book about shooting and killing a family dog has stirred controversy amid plenty of media attention.

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