Donald Trump faces blame from Republicans as he proceeds with White House bid
Republicans have intensified their public criticism of former president Donald Trump following an unexpectedly poor showing in the midterm elections, even as he plans to announce a third White House bid next week.
Virginia’s Republican lieutenant governor, Winsome Earle-Sears, once a vocal supporter of Mr Trump, said voters had sent “a very clear message” on Tuesday that “enough is enough”.
“The voters have spoken and they have said that they want a different leader and a true leader understands when they have become a liability,” she said in an appearance on Fox Business. “A true leader understands that it’s time to step off the stage. It is time to move on.”
Some advisers had urged Mr Trump to delay his planned announcement until after the December 6 Senate runoff election in Georgia that could determine which party controls the Senate to avoid turning the race into a referendum on him and unintentionally helping Democrats.
But Mr Trump has rebuffed that advice and intends to move forward with an announcement on November 15, according to a senior adviser who requested anonymity to discuss the plans.
That leaves him trying to launch a comeback bid at a time when he finds himself in a position of extraordinary vulnerability after dominating the party, largely unchallenged, since he won the nomination in 2016.
At the same time, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who easily won re-election on Tuesday, is gaining new attention as Republicans openly weigh moving on from Mr Trump.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate’s No 2 Republican, noted Mr Trump’s role in lifting some inexperienced and controversial candidates during primaries earlier this year who went on to lose in this week’s elections.
In an interview, Mr Thune said there is “no substitute for good quality candidates”.
Mr Thune said he hoped the party would begin to see the emergence of younger leaders, adding: “You can’t have a party that’s built around one person’s personality.”
Retiring Republican Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey also blamed Mr Trump’s intervention for GOP losses in his state and noted Trump-endorsed candidates did notably worse than other Republicans on the ballot.
“I think my party needs to face the fact that if fealty to Donald Trump is the primary criteria for selecting candidates, we’re probably not gonna do really well,” he said on CNN.
“All over the country there’s a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses or at least dramatically underperforming.”
Mr Trump has disputed that he had a bad night.
“For those many people that are being fed the fake narrative from the corrupt media that I am Angry about the Midterms, don’t believe it,” he said on his social media network.
“I am not at all angry, did a great job (I wasn’t the one running!), and am very busy looking into the future. Remember, I am a ‘Stable Genius.’”
While the sweeping victory Republicans predicted did not come to fruition, the party still appears well positioned to flip the House, and could ultimately take the Senate, too. Many races remain too early to call.
Allies of Mr Trump provided statements to media outlets on the former president’s behalf, endorsing him before his impending announcement.
“I am proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for President in 2024. I fully support him running again,” House GOP chairwoman Elise Stefanik said in a statement.
“It is time for Republicans to unite around the most popular Republican in America, who has a proven track record of conservative governance.”
Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance, who proved Mr Trump’s most successful endorsement, said if the former president decides to run again, he is confident he will be the party’s nominee.
“Every year, the media writes Donald Trump’s political obituary. And every year, we’re quickly reminded that Trump remains the most popular figure in the Republican party,” Mr Vance said in a statement provided after inquiries to Mr Trump’s spokesman.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump escalated his public rebuke of Mr DeSantis, whom he has long considered his most formidable potential challenger.
In a lengthy and angry statement on Thursday evening, Mr Trump berated Fox News and other Rupert Murdoch-controlled media outlets for going “all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious DeSantis”, whom he slammed as “an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations”, as he again took credit for Mr DeSantis’s 2018 win.
While Mr Trump’s allies had previously insisted that reports of tensions between the men were overstated, Mr Trump, who has privately slammed Mr DeSantis for failing to rule out a run against him, did so publicly.
“Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer,” he wrote, comparing the race to his winning 2016 campaign.
“We’re in exactly the same position now. They will keep coming after us, MAGA, but ultimately, we will win. Put America First and, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”