Trump expected to meet with, observe several top VP contenders during South Florida GOP donor retreat

 May 4, 2024

Former President Donald Trump's search for a running mate could be narrowed down to just a handful of top contenders following events scheduled for this weekend in South Florida.

Trump and the Republican National Committee will play host to a "spring donor retreat" that will feature appearances and speeches from several of the prominent individuals who are reportedly under consideration for the vice presidential role, according to Fox News.

Though there has been no official confirmation of such plans, it is widely suspected that Trump will take advantage of the opportunity to quietly hold one-on-one meetings with at least some, if not all, of the VP prospects who will be there.

Possible VP contenders scheduled to speak at GOP donor retreat

CNBC reported that the RNC's spring donor retreat will be held Friday and Saturday at both the Four Seasons Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, and at former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

Some of the "Special Guests" who are scheduled to address attendees and are also believed to be on Trump's shortlist of VP contenders include Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), and J.D. Vance (R-OH); Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Byron Donalds (R-FL); and Govs. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

On Friday, there will be a reception at the Four Seasons during which speeches will be delivered by Stefanik along with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and RNC co-chair Lara Trump, the former president's daughter-in-law, followed by a formal dinner that will feature speeches from Rubio, Scott, and others.

Saturday afternoon will include a luncheon at Mar-a-Lago that Trump is expected to speak at along with Donalds and business entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy -- a possible outside contender for the VP slot -- before another dinner is held at the Four Seasons where Vance and several other GOP Senate candidates in crucial swing states are scheduled to address attendees.

Trump's "quiet" search for VP expected to ramp up soon

NBC News reported Friday that former President Trump's VP search remains somewhat "quiet" at this point, according to multiple unnamed inside sources, in that the campaign has not yet begun to conduct a thorough vetting of possible candidates or sent out detailed questionnaires for them to fill out.

However, those steps could be coming soon, and the weekend's RNC event could prove valuable in unofficially gauging how well the several likely contenders in attendance conduct themselves and handle fundraising on behalf of the Republican Party, which is the main goal of the donor retreat.

The article also suggested that the VP search will probably ramp up after Trump's criminal trial in New York has concluded in a few weeks, with an announcement on Trump's ultimate selection coming shortly before the GOP convention in mid-July in Wisconsin.

During a break in the New York trial on Wednesday, Trump campaigned in Wisconsin and told a local media outlet, "I’ll be picking [a running mate], but probably not too much before the convention, which I happen to be having in the great state of Wisconsin," and added, "Usually it’s done right around the convention. We’ll be making that decision, I think, closer to Wisconsin time."

Fundraising, not VP auditioning, the primary purpose of the weekend's events

As was mentioned by the NBC report, Fox News also emphasized that while much of the media's attention will be focused on possible developments in former President Trump's VP search this weekend, the primary purpose for the RNC retreat is to raise funds for the GOP to help secure electoral victories across the board in November.

An unnamed Republican strategist linked to Trump told the outlet, "The events this weekend are really more about raising money for the presidential race than it is about auditions for the potential VP candidates."

Likewise, Trump campaign senior adviser Brian Hughes told Fox News that the donor retreat "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."

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