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How the Republican candidates who supported Donald Trump fared

Republicans stepped up their public criticism of former President Donald Trump on Thursday, with some saying it was time for the party to move on after unexpectedly poor results in the midterm elections, even as he prepared to make a third bid for the White House next week.

Republican Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsom Earl-Sears, once a staunch supporter of Trump, said voters on Tuesday sent a “very clear message” that “enough is enough.”

“The voters have spoken and said they want a different leader. And a true leader understands when they 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’s time to move on.”

Earl-Sears, who co-chaired a group called Black Americans Re-Elect President Trump in 2020, also said she “simply could not” support another Trump campaign.

Some advisers urged Trump to delay his planned announcement until after the Dec. 6 Senate runoff in Georgia, which could determine which party controls the Senate, to avoid turning the race into a referendum on him and inadvertently helping Democrats. But Trump, rejecting that advice, on Thursday invited reporters to a “Special Announcement” at his Mar-a-Lago club on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 9 p.m.

That leaves his attempt to mount a comeback bid at a time when he is in an extremely vulnerable position after dominating the party largely unchallenged since he won the nomination in 2016. Still, Trump has proven remarkably resilient, retaining the support of his base, even through the Access Hollywood scandal that nearly sank his first campaign and the deadly attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who easily won re-election on Tuesday, is in the spotlight as Republicans openly discuss ditching Trump.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, pointed to Trump’s role in rejecting some inexperienced and controversial candidates during the primaries earlier this year who lost this week’s election.

Thune said in an interview that “there is no substitute for quality candidates.”

“We had a very hotly contested primary this year,” Thune said. “And in some cases, you know, there were a lot of forces at work, including outsiders supporting some of these races.”

Thun said he hoped the party would have young leaders.

“You can’t have a party that is built around the personality of one person,” he said.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who clashed with Trump during his first two years in office, called Trump “an obstruction on our ticket” that would hurt the party’s chances in 2024.

“We want to win the White House, and we know there’s a much better chance of losing with Trump,” he told WISN 12 News. “If we have a candidate not named Trump, we have a much better chance of winning the White House than if our candidate is Trump.”

Retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania also blamed Trump’s meddling for the GOP’s losses in his state and noted that Trump-backed candidates have fared worse in the polls than other Republicans.

“I think my party has to accept the fact that if loyalty to Donald Trump is the primary criterion for selecting candidates, we’re probably not going to do very well,” he said on CNN. “Across the country, there is a very high correlation between MAGA candidates losing big, or at least coming up short.”

Trump denied he had a bad night.

“For the many people who are feeding the false narrative from the corrupt media that I’m angry because of the midterms, don’t believe it,” he said on his social network. “I’m not angry at all, I’ve done a great job (I didn’t run for office!) and I’m very busy looking to the future. Remember, I’m a “stable genius.”

There’s also a chance that other Trump-backed candidates will win their races. While the landslide victory predicted by Republicans did not materialize, the party still looks well positioned to flip the House and could eventually take the Senate as well. Many races are still too early to name.

“There are no such things as ugly wins or beautiful losses,” said Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign staffer who was among those who advised him to delay the planned announcement until after the Georgia runoff.

“Nancy Pelosi’s political career is over,” he predicted. “Biden’s agenda is dead.”

Other Trump allies issued media statements on behalf of the former president, supporting him ahead of the upcoming announcement.

“I am proud to support Donald J. Trump for the presidency in 2024. I fully support his re-candidacy,” said Elise Stefanik, chairwoman of the House of Representatives of the Republican Party. “It’s time for Republicans to rally around the most popular Republican in America, who has a proven track record of conservative governance.”

“If he runs in 2024, he will have not only my support, but the support of millions of Americans across the country,” said Representative Jim Banks, a top congressional ally.

Ohio Senate candidate J. D. Vance, who became Trump’s most successful candidate, said that if the former president decides to run again, he is confident that he will be the party’s nominee.

“Every year, the media write a political obituary for Donald Trump. And every year we are quickly reminded that Trump remains the most popular figure in the Republican Party,” Vance said in a statement provided after inquiries to Trump’s press secretary.

Trump’s decision to move forward is driven in part by his desire to try to freeze the field and shore up support to try to stop the rise of DeSantis, who he has long viewed as his most formidable potential opponent.

In a sign of his growing frustration, Trump released a lengthy and angry statement Thursday night in which he blasted Fox News and other Rupert Murdoch-controlled media outlets for going “all in favor of Gov. Ron Desanctimonius DeSantis,” whom he called “an average REPUBLICAN governor with great public relations,” as he again took credit for DeSantis’ 2018 victory.

While Trump allies have previously insisted that reports of tension between the men were overblown, Trump, who has privately criticized DeSantis for not ruling out a run against him, has done 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. “Now we are in exactly the same position. They will continue to come after us, MAGA, but in the end we will win. Put America First and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”


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