GOP megadonor splits with Trump: Time for ‘new generation of leaders’

Stephen Schwarzman’s search for new candidate illustrates deeper divide in GOP

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 16 November 2022 16:39 GMT
Donald Trump switches Maga slogan to ‘Make America Great And Glorious Again’

An influential conservative donor announced on Tuesday that he was not supporting Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, a stance that shows just how deep the fractures within the GOP may run after last week’s midterms.

Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, made the announcement in a statement to Axios.

"America does better when its leaders are rooted in today and tomorrow, not today and yesterday," he told the news outlet.

"It is time for the Republican Party to turn to a new generation of leaders and I intend to support one of them in the presidential primaries,” added Mr Schwarzman.

In terms of overall monetary support, the blow to Mr Trump’s campaign finances will be minimal. Mr Schwarzman donated $3m to Mr Trump’s America First Action PAC during the 2020 cycle, a not-insignificant amount for any normal candidate but a drop in the bucket compared to the $500m the Trump machine has raised in the two years since his defeat to Joe Biden.

But there’s a greater significance at play here; the announcement from a major GOP donor comes the morning after Mr Trump officially entered the 2024 presidential race, and shows little of the deference to the former president that much of the conservative political sphere, including GOP elites, presented in 2020 or indeed throughout the first two years of the Biden presidency.

It’s a sign that the fractures within the Republican Party are growing deeper, and of the boldness the anti-Trump wing of the party feels after Tuesday’s dismal showing for Republicans but particularly 2020 election conspiracists in the midterms. Republicans failed to take the Senate and indeed may see the Democratic majority expanded, though the party did secure a razor-thin majority in the House which has yet to be fully gamed out.

Mr Schwarzman is not the only Republican publicly backing away from a Trump 2024 run. His own daughter and former White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, released a statement on Tuesday explaining that she was stepping away from politics and would not be a part of her father’s future campaign or potential administration.

And his former acting chief of staff at the White House, Mick Mulvaney, said on CBS that he thinks another run by his ex-boss is a bad idea.

”Because I think he's the only Republican who could lose [to Joe Biden],” he said.

The announcement also means that whichever Republican emerges as Mr Trump’s biggest rival in 2024 will have at least some financial backing from the party’s establishment. Currently, that person looks to be Florida’s Ron DeSantis thanks to an onslaught of polls depicting him as the only Republican with a mathematical shot of beating Mr Trump in a theoretical primary. But much could change in the next two years — including, potentially, Mr DeSantis ruling himself out as a candidate — and as a result a slew of other GOP hopefuls have emerged as likely candidates for the nomination as well.

Among those other Republicans thought to be plotting 2024 bids include former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

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