TALLAHASEE, Fla. (AP) — Key Republican officials tried Wednesday to ignore Donald Trump’s formal steps Heading into the 2024 presidential race, there are insistences that there are more urgent priorities as Republican leaders grapple with the aftermath of a major midterm disappointment.
florida governor ron desantis Asked at a news conference the morning after Trump’s announcement about the brewing divisions in the Republican Party, he said it was too early for Republicans to focus on the next presidential election. DeSantis, who declined to name the former president, a potential 2024 rival to Trump, said his focus was on Georgia’s upcoming Senate runoff and his focus in Florida.
“We just got over this election. People need to calm down about some of these things, and I mean it,” DeSantis said. The 44-year-old Republican governor continued: “At the end of the day, it’s a long election and we have a Georgia runoff, but to me, well, is there anything else we need to do to continue Florida’s lead? ?We’re going to focus on that.”
That sentiment was echoed by leading Republicans in Ohio, New Hampshire and Washington state, as the party grapples with rising internal tensions and doubts about its future after a deeply disappointing midterm cycle. question. History shows that Republicans should have celebrated huge gains last week, but the sweeping victory predicted by Republican leaders did not materialize as Trump supporters were defeated in several battleground states.
Democrats control the Senatewhile Republicans won a slim majority in the House of Representatives Wednesday.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine dodged questions about Trump’s announcement at a Republican Governors Association meeting in Orlando on Wednesday.
“It’s too early to comment on the presidential race,” DeWine said as he walked into the “Future of the Republican Party” forum.
“We’re still trying to analyze what happened a week ago,” said DeWine, who won re-election by 25 points after rejecting Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
Trump, however, will not let his party easily ignore 2024, even though the opening of the next presidential primary may still be more than a year away.
Trump launched his third presidential campaign to hundreds of supporters Tuesday night in the chandelier ballroom of his Mar-a-Lago club. This is true even if political parties have yet to settle on their primary voting calendars.
“America’s comeback begins now,” Trump said.
The former president, who sparked a deadly rebellion after losing his 2020 re-election bid, hopes to launch his 2024 campaign with a Republican midterm victory. Instead, he entered the race at a moment of political fragility following a string of fiascos that many party leaders blamed on him.
High-profile Republican candidates for Senate and governor in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, who repeated Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, were defeated.
Meanwhile, DeSantis won re-election by nearly 20 points in historically swing states. As party activists openly encouraged DeSantis to run for president, Trump has become increasingly critical of the Florida governor in recent weeks — even picking up a new nickname: Ron DeSanctimonious.
Asked about Trump’s barb on Monday, DeSantis quipped, “Look at the scoreboard.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, increasingly a critic of Trump, declined to comment when asked about the debates in early 2024, though he acknowledged that the GOP “turned off a lot of centrist voters” in the 2022 midterm elections. “.
“The way I went into this presidential primary season was to stay away from it. I didn’t have a dog in that fight,” McConnell said.
On the other side of the Capitol, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trump loyalist who wants to become speaker of the House in the event of a GOP majority, asked Wednesday whether he would He stepped away from reporters when he endorsed Trump’s 2024 campaign.
Still, a handful of Republican elected officials have backed Trump’s nascent campaign — the House Republican conference chair, Rep. Elisa Stefanik, RN.Y. and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. ,one of them.
In New Hampshire, which is about to host a Republican presidential primary in 2024, the governor. Chris Sununu predicts that little attention will be paid to Trump’s announcement in the short term.
“He’s not going to clear the field,” Sununu told Fox News, refusing to rule out his own 2024 presidential bid.
Republican Sununu won re-election by more than 15 percentage points after pushing back against Trump’s electoral lies. Meanwhile, New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Don Boduck, a Trump stalwart, lost by nine points.
“You could say he’s never been weaker politically,” Sununu said of Trump. “It’s really a statement from a defensive standpoint. So I think it’s going to make some headlines and we’re all going to move on. There’s still going to be a lot of people in this game — probably until the end of the 23rd century.”
The conservative media has also been lukewarm about Trump’s 2024 political ambitions.
The New York Post, one of Trump’s favorite hometown papers, marked Trump’s campaign with just this line at the bottom of its front page: “Florida declared.”
People reported from New York. Associated Press writers Mike Schneider in Orlando, Farnoush Amiri and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed.