GOP could SNUB Trump for DeSantis in crucial Hershel Walker senate runoff In Georgia
As control of the Senate hangs in the balance, Republicans are considering having Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stump for embattled candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia’s crucial runoff election — rather than former President Donald Trump.
The GOP says it is all in on campaigning for Walker ahead of his December 6 runoff election against incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock, but fear Trump getting involved in the race may jeopardize their chances of a Republican-controlled Senate.
Many of the candidates the former president backed lost their elections this year.
But those close to Trump say it may prove to be difficult to keep the former president away from the campaign trail ahead of his expected announcement of a 2024 presidential run.
DeSantis has widely been considered a potential frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, and in recent weeks Trump has ramped up his attacks of the Republican governor and took credit for his rising political career.
As one person close to the former president told CNN on Friday: ‘Imagine [Trump] seeing Ron campaign for Hershel while he is being told “Please stay away.”
‘He would go ballistic.’
Republicans say they are all-in in supporting embattled Republican Herschel Walker in his runoff election race, but are wary of any Trump support
GOP officials have expressed their hopes that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joins the campaign trail as they appear to push Trump away due to his election losses on Tuesday
There are only three races left to be decided following the midterm elections on Tuesday — a race in Nevada, another in Arizona and Walker’s race in Georgia.
In Arizona, though, Republican Blake Masters is expected to lose his race to Democrat Mark Kelly.
If Republican Adam Laxalt defeats incumbent Catherine Cortez Mast in Nevada, Walker must win his runoff against Warnock for the GOP to take control of the Senate.
Those backing the former NFL running back now say it would be a boon for the campaign to have DeSantis stump for Walker after DeSantis quickly defeated his Democrat challenger, Charlie Crist.
‘We need every Republican surrogate we can get into the state to put tier arm around Herschel,’ said Ralph Reed, president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
‘I think that [Virginia Gov. Glenn] Youngkin or DeSantis is a better fit for soft Republicans or independents in the suburbs that we need to turn out,’ he said.
And a person close to the Walker campaign told CNN how DeSantis would be a ‘huge draw if we could get him.’
But they are not calling Trump a boon to Walker’s campaign in the same way, after many of the candidates he supported for the midterm elections lost their campaigns.
They worry that having Trump involved in the campaign may dissuade independent voters and suburban women from coming out to support Walker.
And they fear Trump’s decision to proceed with an anticipated 2024 campaign launch next week will distract from efforts to secure a Senate majority.
He had sent out invitations late Thursday for a November 15 event, in which he is widely expected to announce he is once again running for president in an effort to blunt the momentum growing behind DeSantis.
The former president has also continued to hurl insults at the Florida governor, saying in a statement on Thursday that he is an ‘average Republican governor’ who lacked ‘loyalty and class’ for refusing to rule out a White House bid of his own.
DeSantis slid into an easy victory on Tuesday, beating out challenger Charlie Crist
Walker faces a runoff election against incumbent Raphael Warnock, right, on December 6
Instead, Republicans are suggesting the former president stay off the trail and just help Walker financially with a generous check.
His MAGA Inc super PAC gave $16.4million to candidates in the closing weeks of the 2022 election cycle, CNN reports, and was sitting on more than $100million across his fundraising committees at the end of September.
‘He’s looking at how he can salvage this moment, and one of the ways for him to do that is to help Walker win,’ one of his former aides said. ‘But I think there’s no way he can announce a campaign for president and not go campaign for Walker.’
Michael Caputo, a 2016 Trump aide, also said he should do as much as possible to raise money for Walker because a presidential announcement will likely cause a surge in Democratic contributions to Warnock.
‘You have to offset that on the Walker side,’ he explained. ‘From my perspective, the best thing Trump can do is donate and raise a ton of money for Herschel because he can.’
The former president is expected to announce he will once again run for president in 2024
The debate comes after the former president was reportedly furious that a so-called ‘Red Wave’ did not materialize at the polls after many in the party turned on him.
Senior Republicans branded Trump a disaster’ and accusing him of ‘sabotaging’ their expected cruise to victory.
But Trump on Wednesday branded reports that he was furious at the results as ‘fake news’, pointing to the fact that 216 GOP candidates he endorsed had won their races on Tuesday night, while 19 lost to a Democrat candidate.
‘There is a fake news narrative that I was furious – it is just the opposite,’ Trump told Fox News Digital. ‘The people I endorsed did very well. I was batting 98.6 percent in the primaries, and 216 to 19 in the general election – that is amazing.
‘All these guys that are winning are my people,’ he added.
He highlighted Senator Chuck Grassley in Iowa, Senator Marco Rubio in Florida, Eric Schmitt in Missouri, JD Vance in Ohio, Ted Budd in North Carolina and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin.
‘I really think we had great candidates that performed very well,’ Trump told Fox News. ‘Marco performed very well – I held a rally for him on Sunday. JD Vance performed very well. Johnson won.’
He said he was ‘proud’ of the candidates he gave his backing to, all while claiming: ‘They always perform better when I’m on the ticket.’
Yet the ex-president is likely to face questions about why the ‘Red Wave’ did not materialize as Republicans point the finger at the 76-year-old.
‘Never forget. Trump picked sure losers in winnable races,’ said Gregg Nunziata, a former member of Marco Rubio’s team in the Senate.
‘He picked weak candidates in otherwise slam dunk races requiring the party to spend tons of money we’d rather spend elsewhere. Oh, and speaking of money, he hoovered up tens of millions and barely spent a dime to help Rs.’
Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist, said: ‘I mean, we had a historic opportunity and Trump’s recruitment of unelectable candidates blew it for us.
‘Trump’s now lost three elections in a row for the Republican Party and it’s time to snap out of this foolishness.’
Fox News’ White House correspondent, Jacqui Heinrich, tweeted: ‘GOP source tells me ‘if it wasn’t clear before it should be now. We have a Trump problem’.’
Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and Trump ally, accused the former president of selfishly pursuing his own interests.
He blamed Trump for elevating deeply flawed candidates, who won their primaries but struggled in the general election.
‘The only animating factor (for him) in determining an endorsement is, ‘Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen or don’t you?’ Christie said.
‘It’s not, ‘Can you raise money? It’s not, ‘Do you have an articulatable vision for the future of your state or your district? It’s not evidence of past success in communicating to voters. It is a completely self-centered determination.’
Former President Donald Trump (left), seen voting Tuesday with former First Lady Melania Trump (right), sent out a long-worded statement Thursday night bashing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and complaining about the positive coverage DeSantis received this week
Former President Donald Trump blasted Fox, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post for coverage this week that was complimentary of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and blamed Trump for his party’s subpar performances in the midterms
Still, the president has been teasing that he’ll announce his 2024 presidential run next Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago, despite some allies saying publicly they think he should hold off until after the Georgia runoff.
But the former president has maintained that he has no plans to change the announcement, saying the party had ‘tremendous success’ and asking Fox News digital: ‘Why would anything change?’
He is now ramping up his attacks on Ron DeSantis, blasting FOX, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Post in a statement on Thursday for embracing the Florida governor.
He pointed out that the trio of News Corp media brands are ‘all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious’ who he called ‘an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations.’
Trump then went on to suggest that DeSantis’ 19-plus point breeze to reelection Tuesday was helped by the fact that the Florida governor didn’t have to shut his state down during the coronavirus pandemic because of the ‘SUNSHINE, where people from badly run States up North would go no matter who the Governor was, just like I did!’
And then Trump said it was his 2018 endorsement of DeSantis in Florida’s Republican gubernatorial primary that made him.
‘Ron came to me in desperate shape in 2017 – he was politically dead, losing in a landslide to a very good Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam, who was loaded up with cash and great poll numbers,’ Trump recalled. ‘Ron had low approval, bad polls, and no money, but he said that if I would Endorse him, he could win.’
Trump said he didn’t know Putnam so figured, ‘Let’s give it a shot, Ron.’
‘When I Endorsed him, it was as though, to use a bad term, a nuclear weapon went off,’ Trump boasted. ‘He said, ‘I went from having it made, with no competition, to immediately getting absolutely clobbered after your Endorsement,” he said of Putnam.
Trump then said he got DeSantis across the line in the general election, in a tight race against Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.
‘I then got Ron by the ‘Star’ of the Democrat Party, Andrew Gillum (who was later revealed to be a ‘Crack Head’), by having two massive Rallies with tens of thousands of people at each one,’ Trump said. ‘I also fixed his campaign, which had completely fallen apart.’
After losing to DeSantis by around 32,000 votes in 2018, Gillum was found in a South Beach, Miami hotel room with an individual identified as a male escort in March 2020. Police were called to the scene for a potential meth overdose.
‘I was all in for Ron, and he beat Gillum, but after the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win,’ Trump claimed. ‘I stopped his Election from being stolen…’
He then turned to DeSantis’ flirtation with 2024, as the New York Post and other outlets have pointed to him as the future of the party.
‘And now, Ron DeSanctimonious is playing games!’ Trump said.
‘The Fake News asks him if he’s going to run if President Trump runs, and he says, “I’m only focused on the Governor’s race, I’m not looking into the future,”‘ Trump said. ‘Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer,’ the ex-president added, apparently wanting DeSantis to outright say he wouldn’t run against him.