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Two Major GOP Donor Groups Will Spend Big to Oppose Trump

Two well-funded Republican groups, Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth (CfG), are planning to spend millions of dollars in the 2024 Republican primaries with the stated goal of blocking Donald Trump from getting the Republican presidential nomination. The upcoming battle will pit big-money donors against a populist voting base that hates them. It should be exciting.

These groups support free trade, changes to Social Security and Medicare, and open immigration. Trump vigorously opposes all of these things, which should result in some fireworks. Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by the Koch brothers in 2004, has said it will seek out a suitable candidate by the end of the summer and then support that candidate.

The Club for Growth may not coalesce around a single candidate. However, it is doing interviews now. It has invited six possible candidates to a donor summit in Florida in March. These are Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA). CfG is also commissioning polls to see how they stack up against Trump, who has not been invited to the summit. For the life of us, we cannot see any conceivable circumstances in which Scott would be the Republican nominee, but maybe they felt that it had to include a Black candidate to show how open-minded they are.

CfG's president, David McIntosh, has said: "The majority of people I talked to worry we lost in 2018, 2020 and 2022, and that it's time for a new standard bearer that believes and will fight for free-market principles." Donald Trump responded to this message on his boutique social media platform with: "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. They said I couldn't win, I did, and won even bigger in 2020."

The Club spent heavily against Trump in 2016, but he won anyway. This shows the limits of money. An outside group can swoop in and spend many millions of dollars on negative ads, but if they are selling something that nobody wants (like free trade), it may not work. One possible strategy for the CfG may be to finance multiple candidates except DeSantis (who doesn't need any help). The idea would be to position them all as plausible nominees in the event that the current front runners, Trump and DeSantis, flame out partway through the process. In any event, having two groups with the ability to spend tens of millions of dollars opposing Trump, should enliven the primary season—except for people who live in the early-primary states and watch television. (V)

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