LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Several potential presidential candidates took shots at former President Donald Trump Friday night and Saturday morning at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference.
Chief among them was former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who likened Trump supporters to the John Birch Society and blamed Republican losses on high inflation and crime as he urged the party to reject Trump.
Counting the losses of Trump-backed candidates in several key midterm races while omitting wins like that of Sen.-elect JD Vance (R-OH), Christie said the GOP needed to break free from one-man rule to win again .
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was more nuanced, telling the gathering that the country needed an eight-year term to fix the mess President Joe Biden created. (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 since last Tuesday’s disappointing election, though Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the likely new Speaker of the House, told the crowd that good days lay ahead.
McCarthy also vowed to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who has a history of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements, from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, following a blackout precedent Democrats set with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (D -GA) and the rejection of Republican candidates in the January 6 poll.
Most of the attention and talk, however, has been about Trump, who launched his new campaign on Tuesday.
Conversations with audience members showed that some supported Trump, while others were happy to hear Christie open a conversation about the need for alternatives, even if his approach was harsh.
When Trump spoke via live stream, he received applause from about three-quarters of the audience.
He recounted his achievements in office, particularly his historic successes in the US-Israel relationship. He also poked fun at moderator Norm Coleman, a former senator, noting that Coleman was duped into getting re-elected in 2008.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley were scheduled to speak Saturday night.
Other well-received speakers included Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who spoke about the need to “rise up” against anti-Semitism, and incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke via video from Israel.
Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke, but did not directly take on Trump.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and its host Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday nights from 7 p.m. until 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 US Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is the winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.