A 24 March fundraiser event at Trump's golf club in West Palm Beach turned out to be what the Politico magazine describes as an improvised episode of the Donald Trump-run TV show "The Apprentice" for four Ohio Senate seat hopefuls.
Ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former state GOP Chair Jane Timken, tech firm executive Bernie Moreno and investment banker Mike Gibbons, who have either launched their campaigns for the senate seat or are expected to do so soon, arrived at the event devoted to House seat contester, Max Miller. However, they were suddenly dragged into a fight to win the support of Donald Trump for their own campaign, according to the media outlet's sources.
The quartet of hopefuls were suddenly called away from the fundraiser to have a private chat with the former POTUS, Politico said. But, instead of holding private conversations, Trump reportedly sat them all at the round table and started asking them about the progress of their 2022 campaigns.
That is when the meeting started to look like "The Apprentice" - Trump's former reality TV show, where the participants tried to win the favour of the property mogul by showing off their business acumen, according to Politico's own description. The media's sources, in turn, compared the events with the famous "Hunger Games" book and movie franchise:
"Mandel said he was 'crushing' Timken in polling. Timken touted her support on the ground thanks to her time as state party chair. Gibbons mentioned how he’d helped Trump’s campaign financially. Moreno noted that his daughter had worked on Trump’s 2020 campaign," the news outlet described the mood of the 15-minutes long meeting.
The ex-POTUS has not yet endorsed any candidates for the Ohio Senate run in 2022, and the roundtable meeting presumably served Trump as a way to assess whom he should back. And hence, the participants reportedly used all they could to prove their chances to win are the best.
Four Senate Hopefuls Reportedly Pitted Against Each Other to Win Trump's Favour
Most of the tension arose between Timken and Mandel, Politico's sources said. The former state GOP chair reportedly boasted early support for her nomination and reminded the former president of her input in his 2020 re-election attempt, which the former president does not recognise as unsuccessful despite the loss. Mandel, in turn, stressed the fact that he is leading in current polls, and reminded Trump that he was among the first to endorse him in 2016, the news outlet said.
Investment banker Mike Gibbons was also reportedly not timid about recalling his financial contribution to Trump's campaigns. Tech company executive Moreno mostly stayed away from the discussion, but admitted that all four hopefuls should be interested in winning Trump's endorsement as a prominent voice of the GOP, Politico added.
Trump poured gasoline on the flames, recalling various mishaps that the candidates committed in the past, the outlet said. He reportedly reminded Timken how she supported House lawmaker Anthony Gonzalez, whom Trump seeks to oust in favour of Max Miller (whose fundraiser provided the background to this impromptu sparring match) over the former's support for Democrat's impeachment efforts. Timken exonerated herself by recalling that she "cleaned" up her position on the matter and withdrew her support for Gonzalez, Politico's sources claimed.
The former president also reportedly grilled Mandel about how serious he was about his 2022 bid, apparently referring to his abrupt withdrawal from the Senate race in 2018 over family issues. Gibbons and Moreno were apparently spared the former president's barbs, judging by Politico's report.