Top GOP campaign group invites 2024 prospects to donor retreat — except Trump

Split screen image of Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Wilfredo Lee/AP, Greg Hauenstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Club for Growth, a leading conservative campaign group, will host almost all the top 2024 Republican prospects for president at a donor retreat in South Florida this weekend, except Donald Trump, according to a Republican familiar with the plans.

Newly minted candidates Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador, and Vivek Ramaswamy, the pharmaceutical magnate turned conservative influencer, will headline the meeting. Top Republicans who have not declared their candidacies but are seriously eyeing bids — including making all the moves of a shadow campaign — are also expected to attend the event, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.

The only declared candidate not attending is former President Donald Trump. Trump, who helped spark the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection with his 2020 election lies and is widely blamed for the GOP’s poor showing in the 2022 midterms, was not invited to the donor retreat, the Republican source told Yahoo News. The retreat is being held in Palm Beach, where Trump lives at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

The Club for Growth is a long-running conservative group that has played key roles in funneling donor dollars to hard-right candidates. The group, led by former Indiana congressman David McIntosh, has had an off-and-on relationship with Trump.

Donald Trump in a MAGA hat.
Former President Donald Trump in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 22, following the recent derailment of a train carrying hazardous waste. (Alan Freed/Reuters)

In 2022, the group helped Trump select prospects for key Senate races, including Ted Budd, who ended up winning an open North Carolina Senate seat. But the two split over the Ohio Senate primary, and the relationship turned sour again when Trump reportedly told McIntosh, “Go f*** yourself.”

Trump slammed the organization over the snub on his social media platform earlier this month, calling the group “an assemblage of political misfits, globalists, and losers.”

Yahoo News reached out to a spokesperson for Trump for comment.

The group’s annual donor retreat comes as the 2024 field is fast taking shape for Republicans. DeSantis, who remains the top contender against Trump should he jump in, hosted Republican donors — including a number of former Trump donors — at a retreat this past weekend.

Trump, who has been slowly getting out on the campaign trail since launching his third White House bid in November, is set to headline the latest Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington later this week.