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Trump grapples with 2024 questions amid GOP midterm letdown – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather

(CNN) – Donald Trump was looking to catapult himself into a third presidential campaign with a wave of Republican halftime wins behind him. Instead, he emerges from Tuesday’s overwhelming election night, facing questions about his political future and the dynamic behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, possibly his potential main enemy in a 2024 primary.

With key races in Arizona and Nevada still being scheduled early and Georgia heading for a Senate runoff, Trump came out Wednesday with few wins and the possibility they could soon be overshadowed by more losses. His picks for Senate vacancies in Ohio and North Carolina prevailed, as did incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. But he lost a critical Senate contest in Pennsylvania, where Mehmet Oz, whom he supported despite widespread concerns about his eligibility in the primary, was elected by Democratic Lt. gov. John Fetterman was defeated. In Michigan, Trump’s nominee for governor failed to unseat Governor Gretchen Whitmer. And while the Republicans still appear to be on track to capture the majority of the House of Representatives, they will likely be a lot slimmer than initially thought.

“As powerful as Trump is in the Republican Party, we’ve learned that he can’t name anyone a winner. You still need candidates who have the basics,” said Bryan Lanza, a longtime Trump adviser.

Others were more outspoken in their assessment of Tuesday’s reported results.

Rep. Troy Nehls, a Texas Republican who won re-election and was supported by Trump, appeared to cast the former president as a liability to other GOP candidates in a radio interview Wednesday.

“There are just a lot of negative attitudes towards Trump,” said Nehls.

In the early hours of Wednesday, a current Trump aide, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, acknowledged that Trump “is in a difficult position when he comes out tonight.”

“Two narratives will prevail over the next week and neither will be easily dispelled,” the adviser said.

That adviser and other Trump allies, keenly aware of his unprecedented involvement in the Republican primary earlier this year, said they expect the former president to be blamed for raising flawed candidates in some of the party’s key contests — particularly Oz, a daytime talk show host who had barely lived in Pennsylvania before launching his Senate campaign there.

Trump’s disappointment was palpable in the gilded ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago estate, where he gathered with dozens of aides, allies and donors on Tuesday night to watch the return. When he returned to the party in the middle of the night after a private dinner, his mood had changed.

“Interesting evening,” he called to reporters before taking the stage for brief and unenthusiastic remarks.

As the crowd dwindled, Trump sat at a table in front of a TV tuned to Fox News with just a handful of advisers. Meanwhile, several guests whose names were on a VIP list handed out to reporters by a Trump aide were nowhere to be found, including some who appeared to have decided to skip the event – and showed up throughout the night as TV experts from studios elsewhere in the country.

The end result was exactly the scenario Trump’s advisers had hoped to avoid: an election in which his top recruits fizzled or flopped and his chief Republican rival rose to new glory.

Sources familiar with the matter said Trump left the party at the end of the night in a bad mood and upset at the attention to DeSantis, who won re-election by a monstrous margin and became the first Republican governor to hold Miami- Dade County took over. a densely populated and diverse area, for the first time in two decades. Just hours before the Florida governor’s victory, Trump had blasted DeSantis in comments to reporters aboard his 757 plane, threatening to leak unflattering information about him and implying he would have been “more gracious” for Trump’s support in his bid for the governor’s mansion in 2018.

“It wasn’t a great night for Trump and makes 2024 more competitive,” said one Republican activist.

As of Wednesday morning, Trump was in touch with allies in the voting states in early 2024 as he worked to develop a message that could move him forward, according to two people briefed on the talks. In Iowa, Trump plans to campaign for Republican Brenna Bird’s defeat to incumbent Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller, though he only backed Bird on Nov. 5, three days before her election.

As he works to plan his next moves, one of the biggest questions he’s grappling with is how to approach DeSantis, sources said.

Ahead of his resounding success on Tuesday, the Florida governor “already had a moment, but the intensity of the spotlight has just quadrupled,” said a Trump aide.

“We have to figure out how to get it back by next Tuesday,” the Trump adviser added, referring to the “big announcement” Trump announced for November 15, when he is expected to officially launch his third pro-white campaign will explain house. DeSantis’ strength was reflected in CNN’s exit polls Tuesday, which showed the Republican governor surpassing President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory margin among Latino voters in Florida and maintaining a small lead among independents, ahead of Biden two years in the state by 11 points.

Both data points could prove a compelling GOP primary between DeSantis and Trump, who have gained traction among black and Hispanic voters in some states of 2020, but not to the extent that the Florida Republican has.

Two people close to the former president said he has backed into a corner by publicly setting a date for his expected campaign announcement before the midterm election result is known, which he did at a campaign rally in Ohio on election night, to compromise with allies who didn’t want him to use the event as a launch pad for his campaign.

“He must [announce]’ said a source close to Trump, adding that it was too late for him to back down. “It would be embarrassing.”

Another Trump ally remarked that it would be “less embarrassing to procrastinate than to be out there in a bunch of silences.”

Some in Trump’s circle hoped a Georgia runoff could help the former president delay the announcement and save face.

Trump adviser Jason Miller said Herschel Walker – who will face Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff on Dec. 6, according to CNN on Wednesday – should be the priority.

“I’ll advise him to postpone it until after the Georgia runoff, assuming the race is still trending there,” Miller said.

Others expect advice to fall on deaf ears. A source noted that Trump has so far resisted arguments that he should delay his announcement, and as of Wednesday morning it was still unclear to some of the former president’s closest aides how he would handle his 2024 ambitions. Would he act defiantly – launch a campaign regardless of the potential obstacles ahead – or consider a rare recalculation?

“I could see him claiming that Republicans didn’t show up in droves because he wasn’t on the ballot and blaming everyone but himself,” one of his advisers said.

Desire to be a kingmaker
For Trump, Tuesday’s stunning results followed months of intense engagement in a mid-term cycle that marked a notable departure from the activities of his modern post-presidency predecessors. As early as last summer, he began recruiting candidates for key Senate elections who would make his false claims about the 2020 election.

“He wanted to be seen as a legendary kingmaker,” said a former Trump campaign official.

This spring, Trump got directly involved in contentious primaries – endorsing candidates he believed to be MAGA, criticizing their opponents in statements and posts from Truth Social, and apparently ignoring advice from some of his advisers to stay on the fringes until the general election started. Trump often argued that his commitment would pay off in the end, not only initiating majorities in both houses of Congress, but also ensuring that elected officials loyal to him — not the party — were in Washington and in the mansions of the most important governors were installed.

In many cases, even candidates who did not endorse Trump flaunted his likeness or familiar phrases such as “America First” or “MAGA fighter” on their campaign websites. Throughout the cycle, GOP contenders regularly migrated to Mar-a-Lago to seek his support. Others spent thousands of dollars raising funds at the waterfront property in hopes that the former president would take note of their dedication and reward them with an endorsement.

Trump ended the cycle by spending more than $16 million through his super PAC MAGA Inc. in recent weeks to promote many of his handpicked candidates and tie his key Democratic goals to Biden, who is in his first had to struggle with declining favor in the office for two years. Hours before the results came in on Tuesday, Trump’s team distributed a memo praising his “unprecedented success in 2022” and quantifying his campaign performances and support for Republican candidates.

“President Donald J. Trump has endorsed over 330 candidates this election cycle,” the memo said, adding that Trump has raised “nearly $350 million” for GOP candidates and the party at large since leaving office Has.

With votes still being tabulated in some states, it’s unclear how many of the hundreds of candidates who received Trump’s approval won Tuesday’s vote. What is clear is that on Tuesday night Trump’s allies pledged themselves to the belief that this would be an undeniable success for the 45th President.

Meeting with fellow Trump campaign alumni in Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday, Miller described the former president as a “juggernaut” earlier in the evening.

“It’s going to be a very different looking party now because of the Trump MAGA movement,” Miller had predicted.

When asked about the 330 endorsements that could make or break his political future, Trump himself started the night by suggesting that he should come up spotless on the other side of the midterms, telling NewsNation hours before the polls closed: “I think if they win, i should win all the credit. If they lose, I shouldn’t be blamed at all.”

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