Against the will of his advisers, many of his party’s officials, and a large chunk of the country, Donald Trump is running for president for a third consecutive time.
“America’s comeback starts right now,” Trump announced Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago. “Two years ago, when I left office, the United States stood ready for its golden age. Our nation was at the pinnacle of power, propserity, and prestige,” he added, without making any mention of his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election and remain in power, going so far as to lead the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
The announcement comes as the GOP lies in shambles after a disappointing midterm election.
Many Republicans had predicted their party would win up to 55 Senate seats. Fox News’s Power Rankings team predicted the party would secure 236 seats in the House. Instead, the Senate balance is 50–49 in favor of the Democrats, pending Georgia’s runoff; the House balance will only narrowly favor the Republicans, after a series of Democratic upsets.
And a whopping 34 Trump-endorsed candidates lost their elections—many of whom Republicans expected to win.
Since the red wave’s crash, numerous Republicans have indicated a desire to shun a potential third Trump run. Postelection polls already show a massive shift from Trump to DeSantis within the Republican base.
On NBC, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said, “We’re not a cult. We’re not like, ‘OK, there’s one person who leads our party.’” He went on to say, “Elections are about winning. And so if folks want to look at these election results and decide that’s where you want us to continue to be, then we’re not going to do well.”
On CBS, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said Republicans have many “other important leaders” besides Trump, including Georgia’s Brian Kemp, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin, and South Carolina’s Tim Scott. Each has been floated as a 2024 contender.
And while some Republicans speak in innuendo, others have been more explicit.
Alabama Representative and former Trump ally Mo Brooks told AL.com, “It would be a bad mistake for the Republicans to have Donald Trump as their nominee in 2024.”
“Donald Trump has proven himself to be dishonest, disloyal, incompetent, crude and a lot of other things that alienate so many independents and Republicans,” he added. Brooks endorsed DeSantis, as well as Senators Ted Cruz of Texas or Rand Paul of Kentucky, as possible 2024 alternatives to Trump.
Calling Trump the GOP’s 800-pound-gorilla, outgoing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan unapologetically hammered Trump: “It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race,” Hogan said on CNN. “This should have been a huge red wave.… People who tried to relitigate the 2020 election and focused on conspiracy theories … they were all almost universally rejected.”
Republican strategist Scott Jennings, who has advised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the past, was straightforward, tweeting: “How could you look at these results tonight and conclude Trump has any chance of winning a national election in 2024?”
Republicans also worry Trump’s announcement will hurt Republican Herschel Walker’s runoff bid against Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, by increasing Democratic voter turnout.
As Trump announced his candidacy, his potential rival DeSantis was addressing a closed-door Republican Governors Association meeting with donors. Meanwhile, Trump and his allies are still embroiled in a legal mess, under several subpoena orders with regard to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Republicans flopped in the midterms. Kevin McCarthy is barely hanging onto a House majority. Mitch McConnell’s leadership is being threatened. And Trump, who has never won the popular vote, has now entered the race for president for a third time.
Good luck, Republicans.