Politics: DeSantis, Pence, Haley, other potential 2024 Trump rivals mostly play it cool at donor confab

Trump now goes after Glenn Youngkin and says his last name 'sounds Chinese'

  Trump now goes after Glenn Youngkin and says his last name 'sounds Chinese' It comes after Trump laid into Ron DeSantis by calling him 'average' and claimed that he sent in the FBI to 'stop ballot theft' when he won the Florida Governor race in 2018. 'Young Kin (now that’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?) in Virginia couldn’t have won without me,' he posted on Truth Social. 'I Endorsed him, did a very big Trump Rally for him telephonically, got MAGA to Vote for him - or he couldn’t have come close to winning. But he knows that, and admits it.

The 2024 Republican presidential race is going to be a long and drawn-out affair, if a weekend forum of potential candidates is any guide.

Trump and potential 2024 rivals generally played nice in separate speeches to the Republican Jewish Coalition, though some members of the latter group made clear they blamed Trump for the party's recent election reversals. And a few made the point more explicitly than others.

"We keep losing and losing and losing," said former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the most voluble presidential hopeful at the weekend conference held in Las Vegas. "And the fact of the matter is the reason we're losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everybody else."

Why Ron DeSantis’s post-midterms glow up may fade

  Why Ron DeSantis’s post-midterms glow up may fade Republicans are rallying around Ron DeSantis. Will it be enough in 2024?Despite Trump’s efforts to deflect the blame, some prominent voices on the right see him as responsible for endorsing candidates who ultimately lost, costing the party precious congressional seats. DeSantis, on the other hand, helped usher in a political realignment that was a long time coming but became starker on election night: For the first time in modern history, there will be no statewide elected Democrat in Florida.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Trump vs. DeSantis?:Trump is under fire over the midterms. DeSantis is rising. And a 2024 rivalry is just beginning.

State of play:After midterms, Biden boosted for a 2024 run, while Trump takes a hit: USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll

Christie and other Republicans, including high-profile Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and ex-Vice President Mike Pence, did not say they will actually run against Trump, although former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley strongly hinted that she might.

Some noted that the Republican nomination battle is still more than a year away.

Ron DeSantis: 'I have only begun to fight'

DeSantis, whose blowout reelection win made him one of the few Republican bright spots in the midterms, talked mainly about his record in Florida, including battles against federal COVID restrictions and what he calls "woke" Democrats and corporations.

DeSantis overtakes Trump as the 2024 presidential nominee Republicans prefer, new YouGov poll says

  DeSantis overtakes Trump as the 2024 presidential nominee Republicans prefer, new YouGov poll says The YouGov poll, taken days after the midterms, is a reversal of previous polls that put Donald Trump ahead among Republican voters.So far, Americans have dealt devastating blows to his brand by rejecting key candidates in closely-contested races. Rather than a so-called "red wave," results were still unclear on Wednesday. Republicans are likely to win control of the House but the Senate is still in play for both parties.

The newly reelected governor said he's going to focus on his day job before making any 2024 announcements but he said: "we've got a lot more to do, and I have only begun to fight."

Also: DeSantis did not attack Trump; nor did Trump attack DeSantis in his appearance before the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Trump sticks to attacking Biden

In an appearance via video from his home in Florida, Trump spent most of his time attacking the Biden administration, especially over Israel and Middle East policy. He spoke little about 2024, but made it clear he expects the party to re-nominate him for the presidency.

In an assertion disputed by a rising number of rivals, Trump said: "The Republican Party is a much bigger, more powerful party than it was before I got there."

During a brief Q-and-A with moderators, Trump said he did not expect to resume his practice of issuing statements by Twitter, saying he preferred his self-owned Truth Social website.

Trump trolls DeSantis, sharing old video showing his fawning Trump support as the two emerge as rivals for 2024

  Trump trolls DeSantis, sharing old video showing his fawning Trump support as the two emerge as rivals for 2024 Trump shared a 2018 DeSantis video that shows the Florida governor reading Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal," to one of his children.So far, Americans have dealt devastating blows to his brand by rejecting key candidates in closely-contested races. Rather than a so-called "red wave," results were still unclear on Wednesday. Republicans are likely to win control of the House but the Senate is still in play for both parties.

One topic that did not surface: The weekend appointment of a special counsel to lead investigations into his taking classified documents out of the White House and efforts to overturn the 2020 election loss to Biden.

The investigation factor?:2024 presidential race has a new player: A special counsel investigating Donald Trump

The announcement:Donald Trump announces his 2024 presidential campaign as GOP debates future: recap

Mike Pence walks fine line with Trump

The former vice president's remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition were like an extension of his current book tour, one in which he walks a fine line with regard to Trump.

Pence has criticized Trump,  particularly his demand that the then-vice president exceed his authority and set aside the electoral votes that elected Biden on Jan. 6, 2021.

Pence has also defended Trump's record overall, and defended him on other matters. "The appointment of a special counsel is very troubling," Pence told Fox News Digital this weekend.

And yet: "I think there's a real desire for new leadership in the Republican Party," Pence told USA TODAY, though he has not yet said whether he will be one of the Republicans seeking that role in 2024.

Trumpflation causes MAGA products to skyrocket in price

  Trumpflation causes MAGA products to skyrocket in price Red "Make America Great Again" caps, Trump t-shirts, and campaign bumper stickers are much more expensive than they used to be.And now that he's running for president again in 2024, he's continuing his fundraising ways for his new presidential campaign committee.

The Pence interview:Mike Pence predicts 'better choices,' not Trump, as the GOP's 2024 nominee

Pence book:What Mike Pence thinks about that fly and other viral moments from his vice presidency

In an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," Pence said "I think the American people love competition." He also said: "I'll keep you posted on whether I'm going to run or not."

Nikki Haley: I've never lost an election

None of the potential Trump Republican rivals used the conference to announce a 2024 candidacy – though Haley did broach the subject.

"A lot of people have asked if I'm going to run," Haley said, and now that the midterm elections are over "I'll look at it in a serious way.”

The former South Carolina legislator and governor as well as Trump's U.N. ambassador, Haley also touted her favorite campaign credential.

“I’ve never lost an election," she said. "and I’m not going to start now.”

The others

Other presidential prospects went to the Las Vegas to raise their profile – none more so than Christie.

The former New Jersey governor most explicitly blamed Trump for election losses in 2018, 2020, and now 2022. The Republicans lost a Senate seat in this year's midterms; while they won control of the U.S. House, their margin may wind up at less than ten seats.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger says Pence 'would be the Ron DeSantis right now' if he had 'fully divorced' Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot

  GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger says Pence 'would be the Ron DeSantis right now' if he had 'fully divorced' Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot "I do want answers from him as to why you do wait two years to talk about it?" Kinzinger asked of Pence's more detailed thoughts about Jan. 6.Kinzinger, who spoke on Charlie Sykes' Bulwark podcast about Pence, said that he had "mixed feelings" about the former vice president.

Christie said "It is time to stop whispering" about Trump, and "time to stop being afraid of any one person … I am ready for that fight.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieFormer New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tested positive for COVID-19, checked himself into a hospital Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, he said in a tweet. Christie worked with President Trump to prepare for the first presidential debate with former Vice President and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden on Sept. 29th in Cleveland, Ohio. © Joshua Roberts, Getty Images Former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieFormer New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tested positive for COVID-19, checked himself into a hospital Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, he said in a tweet. Christie worked with President Trump to prepare for the first presidential debate with former Vice President and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden on Sept. 29th in Cleveland, Ohio.

Other possible 2024 candidates talked about themselves and barely mentioned Trump.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who is also mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, did not mention Trump by name during a speech that focused  on his own background.

Pompeo: 'Who knows what nicknames we might have?'

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., told reporters after the event that he would not seek the presidency in 2024, and that he plans to seek reelection as Florida senator. "No, I'm running for the Senate."

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., who ran for president in 2016, said he too is focused on his 2024 Senate re-election bid, but did not rule out a presidential bid that year either.

“You can consider whatever you like,” Cruz told reporters, adding that "there will be plenty of time" to discuss the 2024 presidential race.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joked about the decisions facing would-be Republican candidates – particularly the sure prospect of sharp attacks from Trump.

Speaking just ahead of Pence, Pompeo told the former vice president that it was "great to be your warm up act."

"Who knows," he added, "the next time we're together, we could be on a stage, multiple podiums. Who knows who else might be with us? ... And who knows what nicknames we might have?"

'An eternity'

One thing everyone agreed on: It's still early.

Gov. Larry Hogan, for example, told reporters he doesn't even know if DeSantis is willing to take on Trump, and it will take months to assess.

"Six months is an eternity in politics," he said.

Hogan, who is considering a long-shot 2024 run of his own, also took a few hits at Trump: "In almost every race I've ever seen, the guy that comes out of the box first that everybody is talking about two years out is almost never the nominee."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DeSantis, Pence, Haley, other potential 2024 Trump rivals mostly play it cool at donor confab

January 6 committee staff are angry at Liz Cheney for focusing too much on Trump and think she's doing it for political gain, report says .
Staffers said the January 6 committee's report was focusing too much on Trump and ignoring police and intel failings, The Washington Post reported.The Post spoke to 15 former and current staffers who said Cheney, the committee's vice chair, has exerted high levels of control over the investigation and the final report. Some staffers said they felt that Cheney's focus on Trump was for her own political gain.

See also