PALM BEACH, Fla. — Staking his claim to the Republican Party, former President Donald Trump is casting his populist policies and attack-dog politics as the key to future GOP success.
In a closed-door speech Saturday night to donors at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump also reinforced his commitment to the party, according to remarks obtained by The Associated Press. Going off script, however, Trump slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as a “stone-cold loser” and mocked McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who was Trump’s transportation secretary.
Trump’s appearance came as Republican officials are trying to play down an internal feud over his role in the party, his commitment to GOP fundraising and his plans for 2024. While Trump’s advisers initially said he planned to emphasize party unity, he rarely sticks to script.
“The key to this triumphant future will be to build on the gains our amazing movement has made over the past four years,” Trump said in his prepared remarks. He added: “We transformed the Republican Party into a party that truly fights for all Americans.”
Veering from his prepared remarks, Trump said he was “disappointed” in his vice president, Mike Pence, and used a profanity in assessing McConnell, according to multiple people in attendance who were not authorized to publicly discuss what was said in a private session. He also said McConnell had not thanked him properly for putting Chao, who was labor secretary under President George W. Bush, in his Cabinet.