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Trump makes peace with Club for Growth

Former President Donald Trump and the Club for Growth appear to have made peace.

After being at war with each other for the past year, Trump and Club for Growth President David McIntosh met for dinner Wednesday evening at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, according to two people with knowledge of the sit-down. McIntosh is also flying with Trump on Saturday to South Carolina, where the former president is campaigning ahead of the state’s Feb. 24 Republican primary.

The rapprochement represents the latest turn in the ongoing, hot-cold relationship between Trump and the conservative organization. Tensions had been especially high between the two sides over the past year, when a Club for Growth-affiliated outside group waged an unsuccessful multi-million-dollar TV ad campaign aimed at sinking Trump in early primary states. The Club-linked group halted its anti-Trump effort last August, after it became clear it wasn’t working.

The moves are another indication of how the GOP is consolidating around Trump as he establishes a stranglehold on the party’s nomination. The former president has won the endorsements of several former primary rivals, and has also begun attracting donors who had previously been on the sidelines.

The complex relationship between Trump and the Club for Growth dates back to the 2016 Republican primary, when the anti-tax group spent heavily to stop Trump from winning the nomination. But Trump and McIntosh, a former Indiana congress member, forged a relationship during his presidency that carried over to Trump’s post-White House years, when McIntosh emerged as an informal adviser.

Trump and McIntosh, however, split during the 2022 Ohio Senate primary, when Trump backed J.D. Vance and the Club for Growth endorsed a rival candidate, Josh Mandel. At one point during the race, Trump sent a vulgar text message, through his assistant, to McIntosh when it became apparent that the Club for Growth wasn’t standing down in its support for Mandel. Vance would go on to win the election.

Early the next year, McIntosh told reporters that Republicans should be open to another candidate besides Trump in the 2024 election. Shortly after, the Club for Growth did not extend an invitation to Trump to a donor retreat it was hosting, though it did invite other Republican presidential candidates.

After the Club for Growth launched its anti-Trump affiliate in July 2023, Trump blasted the group, calling it the “Club for No Growth.”

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