On Monday, The Washington Post published a deep dive into how former President Donald Trump ended up at war with the far-right Club for Growth, a political organization that for a long time was his ally — a development that has upended the Republican campaign world.
"David McIntosh, head of the influential conservative group the Club for Growth, used to fly on Air Force One, get personal shout-outs from Donald Trump and boast to friends about his access to the former president," reported Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf. "Until recently, McIntosh would meet Trump at Mar-a-Lago to coordinate endorsements in Republican primaries and even urge others to leave races, and the Club for Growth backed up the decisions by spending millions of dollars on campaign ads."
"Now McIntosh and Trump aren’t speaking, according to Trump advisers," the report continued. "People who have spoken to Trump say he regularly rails about the Club for Growth and the organization being disloyal."
The problem started because they had a falling out over key Republican Senate races. Trump backed author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance for Senate in Ohio, while the Club for Growth preferred former state treasurer Josh Mandel. Now they are also clashing in Pennsylvania, where Trump endorsed TV talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz and the Club for Growth is backing extreme-right radio host Kathy Barnette.
Trump has said he came to respect Club for Growth because "they fight very hard" — but has blasted them for "spending millions and millions of dollars" against his preferred candidates, adding "Maybe they’re trying to prove a point. So far it hasn’t worked."
For their part, Club for Growth allies are frustrated with the former president. One source close to them said, “McIntosh was told Trump doesn’t forget, watch your back. McIntosh’s response was, ‘I already talked to him, and we’re all good.'" But another, board member Frayda Levin, complained, “No one can explain Trump’s relationships, nor can his five ex-wives or whatever. You can quote me on that.”
The Pennsylvania Senate primary will be decided this evening, with Oz, Barnette, and hedge fund executive David McCormick all vying for first in polls.
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