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Trump to parade vice presidential hopefuls at Florida fundraiser

The Republican presidential candidate will convene a two-day retreat on May.3 in Palm Beach

FILE PHOTO: Governor of North Dakota Doug Burgum speaks as Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on at a Nevada caucus night party at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. February 8, 2024. / REUTERS/David Swanson/File Photo

By James Oliphant and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump will host a bevy of potential vice presidential picks at a Republican event in Florida this weekend, giving him the chance to observe his potential running mates in action while using them as a draw to attract donors.

The Republican presidential candidate will convene a two-day retreat on May.3 in Palm Beach that is expected to attract more than 400 donors and high-profile politicians.

The event will help shore up Trump’s shaky finances, which have been drained by legal fees, and could be a way to reassure donors about the state of the campaign with Trump currently spending the bulk of his time in a Manhattan courtroom in his criminal trial over a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Potential VP picks expected to attend include North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Tim Scott and J.D. Vance; and U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik, according to a copy of the retreat’s program seen by Reuters.

Burgum and Scott competed against Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination before dropping out. U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson will also address the guests.

“Trump is skillfully using his VP contenders as an added bonus at these events,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican operative in Florida. “He’s using this to raise money and change the news cycle.”

Trump will face President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the Nov. 5 general election.

Attendees will receive a briefing on the state of the race from Trump’s co-campaign managers, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, and his pollster Tony Fabrizio. They will also be given a briefing on "election integrity."

Most of the event will be held at the Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach, with Trump hosting a fundraising lunch at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Saturday.

According to the invitation, the retreat was open only to those who have raised $25,000 for Trump or couples who have raised $100,000.

Trump is in no hurry to pick a running mate, according to advisers. He will not be formally nominated until the Republican convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July.

Some Trump advisers believe Noem's stock has fallen in Trump's eyes after her revelation in her new memoir that she once shot a 14-month-old dog for being disobedient.

Trump’s Save America committee has paid out more than $59 million in legal fees since the start of 2023, siphoning resources that could be used for TV ads and other campaign-related needs.

Beyond the hush-money trial, which is expected to last deep into this month, Trump faces federal and state charges over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and a federal prosecution over his mishandling of classified documents. But it’s unclear if any of those three cases will come to trial before the election.

Biden has held a persistent edge in fundraising. His campaign reported having about $85 million in the bank at the end of March, compared with Trump’s $45 million.

Trump is also scheduled to hold a high-dollar fundraiser in New York on May 14.

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