Former President Donald Trump just made a big announcement regarding the 2022 election — and it surprised many.
Since January, rumors have circulated that Ivanka Trump was considering challenging Sen. Marco Rubio in the upcoming Republican primary.
Trump officially destroyed that rumor on Friday by endorsing Rubio for re-election.
“It is my honor to give U.S. Senator Marco Rubio my Complete and Total Endorsement,” Trump said in a statement released by his Save America PAC. “Marco has been a tireless advocate for the people of Florida, fighting to cut taxes, supporting our Second Amendment, our Military and our Vets, a strong national defense, and all of the forgotten men and women of America.”
Rubio “worked with me to reform the VA and help our small businesses grow, and with his help, we achieved the lowest ever unemployment for women, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and almost all Americans. Together, we worked closely with the Cuban and Venezuelan communities, and have made great progress.”
As Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Rubio “ruled that ‘President Trump was in no way involved with Russia,’ as he presided over the Senate Intelligence Committee on the FAKE Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax.”
“Marco will never let the great people of Florida, or our Country, down!”
Even out of office, Trump remains the power broker of the Republican Party.
The Republican National Committee announced this week they are bringing hundreds of donors and several future presidential prospects to the former president’s doorstep in south Florida. While a handful of establishment Republicans said they hope to move past Trump’s divisive leadership, the location of the invitation-only gathering suggests that the party is not ready to replace Trump as its undisputed leader and chief fundraiser.
Trump himself will headline the closed-door donor retreat, which is designed to raise millions of dollars for the GOP’s political arm while giving donors exclusive access to the party’s evolving group of 2024 prospects and congressional leaders. The weekend event will play out in an oceanfront luxury hotel just four miles from Trump’s Florida estate, where allies of the former president will simultaneously be holding their own fundraising events.
“The venue for the quarterly meeting along with Trump’s keynote speech at CPAC shows that the party is still very much in Trump’s grip,” said one of the invitees, GOP donor Dan Eberhart, referring to Trump’s February address at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. “The party doesn’t seem to have the ability to hit escape velocity from its former standard bearer.”
Trump’s continued hold on Republican donors and elected officials ensures that Trumpism will remain the driving force in GOP politics indefinitely.
The lineup at the weekend gathering notably excludes any leading Republicans who have pushed back against Trump’s claims of massive voter fraud or supported his impeachment.
Those establishment Republicans who aren’t expected to appear include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, No. 3 House Republican Liz Cheney, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, or Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
The gathering will instead feature Trump himself and a slew of candidates already positioning themselves for a 2024 presidential bid, assuming Trump himself does not run again. The potential White House contenders include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. Also scheduled to speak are House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sens. Rick Scott, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Rubio.
The weekend’s agenda will focus on party unity and how to expand the GOP, with sessions planned on the topics.
RNC member Henry Barbour, who helps lead the committee’s small-dollar fundraising apparatus, suggested the retreat was not set in Palm Beach to cater to Trump. He noted that such events are typically held in states such as Florida, New York, California, and Texas.
With COVID restrictions, Barbour said, “The RNC has limited options.”
“We’re not in Florida so we can bow down to Donald Trump. No one needs to bow down to Donald Trump,” Barbour said in an interview. “He’s certainly an important part of Republican fundraising, but the party has to be bigger and broader than any one candidate.”
The RNC has booked the entire Four Seasons Resort on Palm Beach for the weekend gathering, and there will be donor events at Trump’s nearby Mar-a-Lago estate to raise money for groups focused on Trump’s political future and policy priorities.
At the same time, a handful of leading Trump allies — including embattled Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz — will appear at a weekend conference of their own at Trump’s Doral golf resort 70 miles to the south in Miami.
Former Trump aide Hogan Gidley suggested Trump is as powerful as ever.
“People in D.C., inside the Beltway, think Donald Trump is radioactive,” Gidley said. “The Republican Party has grown, and it’s because of Donald Trump’s successes. To ignore that, you do so at your own peril.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article=