Joel B. Pollak
Several possible presidential hopefuls took shots at former President Donald Trump on Friday evening and Saturday morning at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership convention.
Foremost among these was former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who likened Trump supporters to the John Birch Society and blamed Republican losses for high inflation and crime as he urged the party to dump Trump.
Counting off the losses of Trump-backed candidates in several key midterm races, while omitting victories such as that of Sen.-elect J.D. Vance (R-OH), Christie said the GOP had to free itself from one-man rule to win again.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was more subtle, telling the gathering that the country needed an eight-year term to fix the mess created by President Joe Biden. (Trump could only serve another four years.)
Outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD), a frequent critic of Trump in the mainstream media, claimed that Trump had alienated independent voters.
The convention was the first major political gathering after last Tuesday’s disappointing election, though Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the likely incoming Speaker of the House, told the crowd that good days were ahead.
McCarthy also promised to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who has a history of anti-Israel and antisemitic statements, from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, following a precedent of exclusion that Democrats set with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (D-GA) and the rejection of Republican nominees to the January 6 inquiry.
The bulk of attention, and debate, however, was about Trump, who launched his new campaign on Tuesady.
Conversations with members of the audience suggested that some supported Trump, while others were glad to hear Christie open up a conversation about the need for alternatives, even if his approach had been strident.
When Trump spoke via live stream, he received a standing ovation from roughly three-quarters of the room.
Trump yarmulke (Scott Olson / Getty)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 18: A guest listens as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting on November 19, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The meeting comes on the heels of former President Donald Trump becoming the first candidate to declare his intention to seek the GOP nomination in the 2024 presidential race. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
He recounted his achievements in office, particularly his historic successes in the U.S.-Israel relationship. He also teased moderator Norm Coleman, a former Senator, noting Coleman was cheated out of reelection in 2008.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley were due to speak Saturday evening.
Other speakers who were warmly received were Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who spoke about the need to “rise up” against antisemitism, and incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke via video from Israel.
Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke, but did not take on Trump directly.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.