LAS VEGAS — Three weeks to the day after the Hamas assault on Israel, former President Donald Trump and his top rivals for the 2024 Republican nomination will showcase their solidarity with Israel as they all speak at the same event.
Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy all speak Saturday at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) annual leadership conference in Las Vegas.
The gathering is only the second time Trump, the commanding frontrunner for the GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run, is taking part in an event with his 2024 rivals.
“This is a Halley’s Comet-type rare event where we have all of the Republican presidential candidates together at the same event on the same day on the same stage,” RJC CEO Matt Brooks told Fox News.
Brooks said the appearance of the major Republican presidential contenders and other major GOP leaders speaking at the three-day confab that got underway Thursday “underscores how much they value the Jewish community.”
More than 1,400 Israelis were killed during the sneak attack. Israel responded with relentless airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, which, according to authorities in the Hamas-controlled territory, have left roughly 7,000 Palestinians dead.
“The eyes of the world will be looking at this event this weekend,” Brooks said.
And he emphasized that the conference “takes on even more significance because of the extraordinary show of solidarity and unity that we will see in the Republican leaders who are coming out in terms of their support for Israel at this critical time.”
The RJC is dedicated to enhancing ties between the Jewish community and the Republican Party. The group’s 2021 and 2022 RCJ leadership meetings, which always draw top GOP leaders, politicians, donors and activists, served as early cattle calls for potential Republican 2024 White House hopefuls.
And this weekend’s conference was already set to serve as a major draw for the presidential candidates, even before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
“It’s important to point out that literally every single one of the speakers that we have announced are coming were all confirmed and committed before Oct. 7,” Brooks stressed. “So, this isn’t just because of what happened on Oct. 7 that we’re drawing all these people. They had wanted to come and were planning to attend even before that.”
Trump, pointing to his dominating polling and fundraising advantage over his rivals, skipped the first Republican presidential primary debates and plans on snubbing next month’s third debate. And he’s only appeared at one of the numerous 2024 cattle calls, a major state GOP fundraising dinner in July in Iowa, whose caucuses kick off the Republican nominating calendar.
But Brooks said the Trump campaign “was very agreeable and decided early on that this was something they wanted to do.”
The conference is taking place in Nevada, a crucial early voting state in the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominating calendar. The Silver State to date has seen very little candidate traffic, especially compared to Iowa and the two other early states, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But Trump and a couple of his rivals are holding campaign events separate from the RJC event while they’re in Las Vegas.
“I think, from the candidates’ perspective, one of the selling points is it’s a two-fer,” Brooks said. “Some of them are doing local events around the caucus or primary.”
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