Not long ago, the names on the marquee would have been at home on Fox News: Stephen K. Bannon, Tucker Carlson and Roger J. Stone Jr.
But Fox News ousted Mr. Carlson three months ago, and Mr. Bannon, Mr. Stone and a boisterous pro-Trump crowd at the Turning Point Action Conference were eager to bash the conservative network, claiming it hasn’t been supportive enough of the former President Donald J. Trump as he tries to regain the office he lost in 2020.
At the two-day rally, with thousands of pro-Trump activists in attendance this weekend in South Florida, boos flew on Sunday with mentions of Rupert Murdoch, the Fox media mogul, as well as President Kevin McCarthy.
And after Trump spoke to this crowd on Saturday, all of his Republican rivals for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination took to the stage at their own peril.
In a speech on Sunday, Mr. Bannon, the former Trump chief strategist who was found guilty of contempt of Congress, suggested that Mr. Murdoch had used Fox News to publicize the Republican governors of battleground states to undermine the candidacy of Mr. Trump. He quoted Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Trump’s main rival in the party, following him about 30 percentage points in national polls, as a cautionary tale.
« Come on down, » said Mr. Bannon. « Bring it because we will destroy you just like we destroyed DeSantis. »
Mr. Bannon – the host of a right-wing podcast, which he used to promote election hoaxes and conspiracy theories – criticized Fox News for its lack of coverage of the pro-Trump conclave and called Mr. Trump’s political battles a « jihad ». «
« Donald Trump is our tool of retribution, » he said.
While Fox News did not air the event on its main network, it did show conference speeches by Trump and the other Republican candidates on Fox Nation, its subscription streaming service. A Fox Corporation spokesman declined to comment on behalf of Mr. Murdoch.
Two of Trump’s longtime Republican opponents: Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas; and Francis X. Suarez, the mayor of Miami, experienced firsthand the wrath of Trump supporters Sunday when they were heckled and booed.
When Mr. Suarez, that The Herald of Miami reported that he was under investigation by the FBI in a corruption case, walked up to the microphone, some people in the crowd shouted « traitor ».
He responded by mentioning his Cuban-American heritage and saying that dissenting voices were welcome in America, unlike his ancestors’ home country.
« It’s okay to have a little hate, » Suarez said. Subsequently, he asked conservative activists to join his campaign.
Mr. Hutchinson paused his remarks as the crowd began chanting Mr. Trump’s name, and one of his biggest beats of applause came when he mentioned his successor in the Arkansas governor’s office: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mr. Trump’s former White House press secretary.
Struggling with cross-talk throughout much of his speech, Mr. Hutchinson said Republicans need to have respect for people with differing opinions.
At the conference, attendees could attach sticky notes to the clippings of Republican candidates’ heads.
A man put one with a homophobic slur on the face of Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president. Subsequently, he appeared to have been removed. But a series of stickers branding Mr Pence a « traitor » for refusing to overturn the 2020 election on January 6, 2021 covered his face.
On a clipping of Nikki Haley, Trump’s former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador, a sticky note read: “Woman in Politics? Servility. »
At the height of the event on Saturday, an estimated 6,000 people packed the Palm Beach County Convention Center to hear Trump speak for nearly 100 minutes. Mr. Carlson reflected on his firing from Fox News in April.
In a speech Sunday, Mr. Stone, who had a felony conviction pardoned by Mr. Trump, said federal prosecutors had offered him a deal to unearth the filth implicating Mr. Trump in wrongdoing and recalled a pre-dawn FBI raid on his South Florida home in 2019 during which he was arrested.
« I said, ‘You can go to hell,' » she said.