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Trump, rivals to headline top Republican meeting

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Former US president Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on November 15, 2022 to announce his White House bid./AFP
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Nov 19, 2022 - 03:33 AM

LAS VEGAS — Donald Trump will address a gathering of senior Republican Party figures this weekend, including potential rivals for the White House, in his first speech since announcing a plan to run in 2024.

The former US president was a late addition to the guest list for the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, which begins Friday.

Trump joins a slate of top GOP speakers, including some who are thought to be mulling a bid for the party’s presidential nomination, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, his erstwhile vice president Mike Pence, and ex-secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

While Trump is only participating by video during the Saturday session, it will be his first public address since the hour-long announcement at his Mar-a-Lago home that he wanted his old job back.

That speech came a week after the Republican Party’s disappointing showing in the midterm elections, which senior party figures have blamed on the property tycoon and his grievance-laden denials of his own election defeat.

The high-profile candidates he endorsed did worse than mainstream Republicans in the poll, including his pick for Pennsylvania senator, leaving the upper chamber in the hands of the Democratic Party.

In the run-up to the poll, pundits and party leaders predicted a “red wave” that would sweep President Joe Biden’s party from the leadership of both houses.

Instead, the Republican Party managed only to eke out a slim majority in the House of Representatives.

Trump, who has denied he is to blame for the poor performance, has already begun his customary bomb-throwing about potential presidential rivals, dubbing DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious” and saying Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s name “sounds Chinese.”

The appearance will also come after the US Justice Department named an independent prosecutor to oversee criminal investigations into Trump, including into his stashing of top secret documents and his involvement in the mob attack on the US Capitol in January 2021.

The gathering, which also features Israel’s prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, runs until Sunday.

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