Trump woos early state Republicans at Mar-a-Lago
Trump’s team is set to address some of the issues that arose during his disorganized – though ultimately successful – 2016 campaign, when then-chief rival Ted Cruz looked like he could outmaneuver him in the fight for delegates . Trump eventually brought in Paul Manafort to oversee his delegate efforts, but he still faced a messy convention where he was forced to beat the back pockets of delegate opposition who tried unsuccessfully to stop his nomination.
The insider-initiated process that decides who is selected as a convention delegate in each state will roll out next year, and positions are typically awarded to party officials and others involved in GOP activities.
This time, Trump is keen to reach out to potential convention delegates, looking to capitalize on his lead in the 2024 race to make inroads ahead of his rivals who are just beginning their organizing efforts.
In Iowa, Trump has placed full-page ads in Republican Party publications for the past two years, and last year he gave the state’s GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann a a longtime Trump ally, a speaking slot at a rally he hosted in the state. Kaufmann’s son, State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, was recently named an adviser to Trump’s campaign.
In New Hampshire, Trump recently made an appearance before the state’s GOP and hired former state party chairman Stephen Stepanek as a senior adviser.
And last year in South Carolina, Trump sponsored a breakfast and spoke remotely with the executive committee of the South Carolina Republican Party. In 2021, Trump endorsed Drew McKissick for his successful bid for GOP President and later featured McKissick as a speaker at a rally he hosted in Florence, SC (However, Trump endorsed another candidate over McKissick, the eventual winner, in this year’s RNC co-chair race.)
Thursday’s dinner brought together Trump advisers Susie Wiles, Brian Jack, Alex Latcham and Jason Miller. Jack, who helped lead Trump’s 2016 convention efforts and also served as a top policy adviser to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, oversaw state party outreach.
The Nevada delegation included state party chairman Mike McDonald, a longtime ally of the former president, and Republican National Committee member Jim DeGraffenreid. Before dining with Trump, state party leaders received a briefing from Trump’s aides on the 2024 campaign.
At the dinner, Trump did not say when he would campaign in Nevada, where he owns a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. But the former president said he would go there in the coming months. He’s made stops this year in two other early voting states, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and is set to campaign in Iowa on March 13.
Other candidates also stepped up their first state campaign. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has spent time in several key states since launching her campaign last month.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, is due to appear in Iowa on March 10 – his first stop in the state, which traditionally hosts the party’s first nominating contest. DeSantis has another event lined up in Las Vegas the next day.