Former President Trump lashed out on Tuesday at the Club for Growth, a leading conservative group, after he was left off the guest list of its annual donor retreat.
In a post on his social media site, Truth Social, Trump ripped the group as the “Club For NO Growth” and recounted how his ties to the group fell apart after disagreements over his endorsements in high-profile races in Alabama and Ohio last year.
He also blasted the club for initially opposing his candidacy in 2016 before repeating his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” against him.
“The Club For NO Growth, an assemblage of political misfits, globalists, and losers, fought me incessantly and rather viciously during my presidential run in 2016,” Trump wrote. “They said I couldn’t win, I did, and won even bigger in 2020, with millions of more votes than ‘16, but the Election was Rigged & Stollen.
“They asked to get together on Endorsements of candidates, we did, and had MANY WINS & NO losses. Relationship broke up over my Endorsement of certain great people in Alabama & Ohio. I won them all!”
Trump’s comments came after the Club’s president, David McIntosh, told reporters on Monday that the group had invited several prospective Republican presidential contenders to its annual donor retreat in Florida, but had left Trump off its list. Trump is so far the only declared candidate in the race.
Among those invited to the gathering are former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
“We’ve invited all of the folks listed here,” McIntosh said. “Not Trump. But we’ve invited the others.”
While he hasn’t announced whether he intends to run for the White House in 2024, DeSantis has emerged as an early favorite for the Republican nomination and perhaps the biggest threat to Trump’s hopes of recapturing the White House.
A new poll from the Club for Growth released on Monday showed DeSantis leading Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head 2024 primary match-up, with the Florida governor taking 49 percent of the vote to Trump’s 40 percent.
McIntosh told reporters on Monday that he hoped to have DeSantis deliver one of the keynote speeches at the club’s donor retreat, but said that the Florida governor is still “finalizing his schedule.”
McIntosh also expressed concern about the GOP’s prospects of winning the presidency in 2024 if Trump is once again the nominee, saying that Republicans “should be open to another candidate.”
McIntosh’s comments and Trump’s subsequent attack were the latest signs of just how bitter the relationship between Trump and the Club for Growth has become. While the Club initially opposed Trump in 2016, it eventually rallied to his side in the general election.
After he captured the White House, Trump and the Club formed something of a political alliance, coordinating endorsements in key races.
But things soured last year after Trump and the Club backed opposing candidates in the GOP Senate primary in Ohio. Trump’s decision to rescind his endorsement of former Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary also caused friction between him and the Club, which continued to stand behind Brooks.
In November, on the eve of Trump’s latest campaign launch, the Club for Growth released a batch of internal polling that showed DeSantis leading Trump among GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that will kick off the Republican nominating contest next year.
Al Weaver contributed reporting.