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Trump praised Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, ranted about windmills, and pushed his baseless election-fraud claims at a GOP retreat, report says

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Trump
Former President Donald Trump. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
  • Trump harped on his false election claims and grievances at a Senate GOP retreat in Florida.

  • He also praised Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin and ranted about windmills, The Washington Post said.

  • Some Republicans are worried about Trump's impact on the party's ability to win in 2022.

Former President Donald Trump continued to push false claims about the 2020 election, blasted his foes in Congress, and played all the biggest hits from his routine of grievances at the National Republican Senatorial Committee's retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday - a preview of the role he may play in the 2022 midterm cycle.

Trump slammed Democratic leaders as "maniacs" and said they "cheat like hell, and they stick together," The Washington Post reported. "The Republican Party has to stick together," he added, while also insulting GOP Sens. Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse.

Trump also praised Chinese President Xi Jinping, highlighted his strong relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and ranted about his opposition to windmills, long an obsession of his, in his speech to lawmakers and donors at the event sponsored by the Senate GOP's campaign arm, The Post said.

"It's so sad when you see that they are approving these windmills - worst form of energy, the most expensive," Trump said, according to The Post. "You talk about carbon emissions, well they are making them. More goes into the air than if you ran something for 30 years."

Trump appeared at the event after his statement on Wednesday in which he threatened Republicans who would challenge his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. "If we don't solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in '22 or '24," he said.

Insider's Kimberly Leonard reported from Palm Beach on Wednesday that some Republicans were surprised that Trump was even invited. They were worried that Trump could hurt the party's chances by doubling down on his 2020 election loss, an issue that may not be a top motivating factor for voters, while also telling them that elections are rigged and that their votes may not count.

The former president is making 2020 a litmus test for 2022. That includes pressuring GOP lawmakers in battleground states to conduct partisan reviews and examinations of the election and endorsing candidates, like those for election-administration positions in critical swing states, who've backed his false claims.

In the process, Trump is causing headaches for GOP House and Senate leaders intent on recapturing both chambers in 2022.

Rep. Tom Emmer, the chairman of House Republicans' campaign arm, reportedly distanced himself from Trump's statement in a call with reporters on Thursday, describing Trump as a "private citizen" who is "entitled to his opinion."

A GOP strategist told The Post that Trump's insistence on rehashing elections "gives everyone cold sweats over the Georgia situation and the prospect he could have some impact again."

Republicans got a worrying preview in the Senate runoff elections in Georgia in January, when, after nearly two months of Trump's claiming the 2020 election in the state had been rigged, two Democrats defeated the Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and returned the chamber to Democratic control for the first time since 2013.

The largest drop-offs in voter turnout from November to January were in rural and predominantly Republican areas of Georgia, an indication of the struggles the party may face without Trump at the top of the ticket while his election lies dominate GOP politics.

Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican representing a competitive House district in Nebraska, told The Post that the GOP would lose if lawmakers focused on the past instead of the future.

"Right now, if the party focuses on Afghanistan, inflation, the border, crime - we are going to win big," Bacon said. "If the party wants to make it about the election is rigged, we will lose. Independent voters don't respond well to that. If we keep the focus right, I think we're going to win big in 2022."

GOP Rep. Roger Williams of Texas similarly told CNN: "I'm a President Trump guy. But we've got to focus on 2022."

Read the original article on Business Insider