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Trump makes surprise appearance at Mar-a-Lago event, hints at Lara Senate bid

Former President Donald Trump made a surprise appearance at a dog rescue fundraiser being held at Mar-a-Lago on Friday -- a rare sighting of the 45th president in post-White House life.

WPTV caught images of Trump, sporting a "Make America Great Again" hat, making a quick appearance at a fundraiser for a rescue mission to remove dogs from the meat market trade in China.

"So, I didn't exactly prepare for this," Trump added, saying that he had been walking by and heard people yelling. "But I was walking by and I hear everybody screaming in the ballroom and I said ‘what’s going on?’ and they said ‘we’re going to help dogs’ and that’s OK with me."

He praised Lara Trump, who was in attendance, and added: "I don’t know, you’re running for the Senate?"

"What you're doing is so important and so great, and so important and I'm with you 100%, and we had many meetings in the White House and the Oval Office, having to do with saving and helping dogs and that's what we want to do," Trump said in images and video caught by WPTV reporter T.A. Walker.

He said "tremendous progress had been made."

A source familiar with Trump's schedule confirmed that he attended the event to Fox News, and the group running the fundraiser -- Big Dog Ranch Rescue -- issued a statement about the event.

"President Trump visited the event and thanked those attending for their support in helping Big Dog Ranch Rescue save 47,000 dogs to date," spokesman Chase Scott told Fox News. "The crowd responded with a standing ovation for the President, Lara Trump and Lauree Simmons for the work they did to help pass the first national animal anti-cruelty bill in U.S. history."

"The fundraiser was sold out and so was spread over 2 days to allow for social distancing and raises funds to save abused, abandoned and injured dogs and to bring dogs from China who would otherwise be victims of the horrific dog meat trade," he said. 

Trump has released a number of statements since leaving office in January and made his first major public speech earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) -- where he tore into President Biden’s time in office.

Trump is being closely watched for signs of a potential 2024 run, something he hinted at during his CPAC speech.

Lara Trump has been tied to a potential North Carolina Senate run to replace outgoing Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Married to Eric Trump, Lara was a senior adviser of the then-president’s 2020 re-election campaign. She was born and raised in North Carolina, although she, Eric and their children currently live in the northern suburbs of New York City.

In November and December, Lara Trump hinted at the possibility of running for the Senate, including retweeting a poll that suggested she would be the GOP front-runner if she entered the race.




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