It’s hard for Trump to do anything quietly, but he has successfully convened some of the wealthiest and highest-profile supporters for some dinners in the last few weeks.
These intimate dinner parties have focused on the former president’s 2024 election plans and when and if he should announce his comeback bid officially.
Trump has had these gatherings in Houston, Nashville, and most recently Las Vegas. At this Nevada event, Phil Ruffin, the billionaire casino mogul, urged his friend to begin another run for the White House.
The consensus from these dinners has been that Trump should run again; the matter up for debate is when he should announce. Ruffin and some others believe he should do it soon, but others believe it would be best to wait until after the midterm elections.
These dinners were unreported, but they have now been described by four people who attended. These reports show us a glimpse of how Trump is thinking and his plans to reassemble the political network that he put together while in the White House. He is being shadowed by other potential GOP candidates who are also planning gatherings and making plans for a 2024 run for the White House.
The dinners often have focused on more than just Trump’s 2024 plans. At one, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham got into a tense back-and-forth with country music star John Rich. They debated coronavirus vaccines. In Las Vegas, there was much discussion about the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The meals have all been hosted by Save America, Trump’s leadership PAC. They have said the purpose is to brief on the former president’s endorsement record in the midterms.
But no one can keep the conversation away from the 2024 election and Trump’s plans.
At the Nashville dinner, Sen. Graham told Trump that he would have his wholehearted support for another campaign. He also said that if he wanted to run again, he should tell the public soon.
Some of what Trump has heard at these dinners has not been so palatable for the former president. He continues to talk about the stolen 2020 election, but some have encouraged him to focus on policy and what he would do if elected.
Some in GOP Party leadership have questioned whether the January 6 Capitol riot hearings have damaged Trump and taken away his political strength.
The New York Times published a survey that showed more than half of Republican voters have expressed a desire to see someone else lead the party’s ticket in 2024. Trump lashed out at the Times saying they were “fake polls.”
Believe it or not, Trump has been careful not to show his hand about his plans. Those close to him are convinced that he will run, but they do not know if he will announce the run before or after the midterms. They also admit that trying to predict what Trump will do is a “fool’s errand.”
In Las Vegas, Ruffin challenged the former president to launch his campaign and one of the people at the table said that Trump showed little response.
“We’ll see,” he said.
More dinners are being planned. They are being built into Trump’s schedule of rallies. Trump usually stays overnight following the major rally and the dinner is the following evening.
Aides to the former president craft the guest list to be between 12 and 16 people. They usually include Republican candidates, elected officials, and people with huge wallets.
For a man who doesn’t keep muchly hidden, the rising anticipation is quite a surprise.