Donald Trump has been branded the Republican Party’s ‘biggest loser’ after the U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday, while his party rival Ron DeSantis claimed victory in a landslide in Florida, giving him a solid platform to challenge the former president in 2024.
If Trump was the Republican loser in the U.S. midterm elections — despite not being on the ballot — it was DeSantis who emerged as the party’s big winner. Heading into election night on Tuesday, when the beaming Republican governor took to the stage in Tampa with his wife Casey and children to claim victory over “woke ideology,” Trump had looked like the likely Republican presidential nominee of 2024.
But after DeSantis’ very convincing re-election bid against Democrat Charlie Crist, in which the governor won 59.4% of the vote with 99% returns, the relative political newcomer is seen as a potential GOP frontrunner.
In an indicator of the changing tide, the News Corp newspaper the New York Post, historically a champion of the former president and who just two years ago endorsed Trump for re-electionsaid the governor of Florida “DeFUTURE” on his cover page.
An article from FoxNewsanother traditional Trump ally, reported that Trump had been “thrown through [the] media specter,” citing a quote describing the former president as tonight’s “biggest loser.”
Meanwhile, Trump, who only days ago teased when he should announce a 2024 presidential election, was accused by members of his own party on Wednesday of the failure of the “red wave” anticipated by the Republicans.
Perhaps in anticipation of DeSantis’ rise, Trump, who is expected to launch his third bid for the Republican presidential nomination this month, issued a pre-midterm warning to DeSantis, telling him not to run. .
“I think if he runs he could hurt himself a lot. I think the base wouldn’t like that – I don’t think it would be good for the party,” he told reporters in his plane Monday night.
If DeSantis ignores his warning, he would, he threatened, reveal “things” about him “that won’t be very flattering.”
DeSantis declined to say whether he would serve his entire second term and did not mention Trump in his victory speech.
But when fans chanted “Two more years!” — governors usually serve four-year terms — he smiled and said, “Thank you very much.”
He did, however, refer to the Covid pandemic – during which he claimed Floridawhich had the third-highest death toll of any US state – was a “sanitary haven for when the world went crazy”.
“We haven’t backed down,” he said. “We had the conviction to guide us and we had the courage to lead. We made promises. We made promises to the people of Florida and we kept those promises. And so today, after four years, the people have delivered their verdict.
Last week, Trump attacked DeSantis, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” at a rally in Pennsylvania. He also called him a “good guy”, saying they had no “tiff” and that Trump was “very high in the polls” and told reporters on Tuesday that he had voted for him.
Tuesday night was expected to be a moment of triumph for Trump, a precursor to his soon-awaited return to the limelight. But a disappointing performance from his party – particularly among its endorsed candidates – meant it didn’t go to plan.
Trump appeared uncomfortable at an election watch party he hosted in his stuffed animal Mar-a-Lago appeal on Tuesday night, after it was clear there would be no ‘red wave’ he implored his supporters to deliver.
The election night rally, held in the grand ballroom of his Florida property, was not an event where the often talkative Trump seemed particularly interested in addressing guests or even talking to reporters after he spoke. a short and solitary speech.
Trump, who is expected to announce his third campaign for the White House next week, had planned to solidify his position as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination by winning victories for candidates he endorsed, but the results of the most competitive contests were decidedly mixed.
In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman beat Republican Mehmet Oz to flip a Senate seat, while Democrat Josh Shapiro won the race for governor against Republican Doug Mastriano. In Arizona, Kari Lake and Blake Masters, who followed Trump’s playbook, were both behind their Democratic counterparts, although in Ohio Republican JD Vance picked up a Senate victory.
Tight races for Trump-endorsed candidates appeared to confuse the former president, whose only formal remarks came in the early evening, when he delivered a clipped speech in front of a row of American flags at the head of the ornate of white and- gold ballroom.
Trump walked in to rapturous applause after top aides from his political team and political action committees – some of whom had been ordered to spend the evening at Mar-a-Lago – and donors filled the room. in anticipation of what the crowd saw as the main draw of the event.
But in an indication of his unease, Trump simply said it had been an “interesting night” before heaping praise on Republican Senate candidate Katie Britt, whose victory in Alabama was taken for granted.
Trump has remained silent on the landslide reelection of Florida governor — and his potential 2024 presidential rival — Ron DeSantis.