President Donald J. Trump made it very clear in Wednesday’s post-midterm press conference: the GOP is now the party of Trump.
“On the other hand you had some that decided to let’s stay away, let’s stay away,” he said while discussing losing GOP candidates. “They did very poorly. I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad. But I feel just fine about it. Carlos Curbelo. Mike Coffman. Too bad, Mike. Mia Love. I saw Mia Love, she called me all the time to help her with a hostage situation, being held hostage in Venezuela. But Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”
Trump has a point. The America First movement that was embraced by Republican voters – the one the cares about secure borders, a strong economy and American exceptionalism – is a winning formula for the GOP. The Republican establishment that is all-too-cozy with special interest donors and the Democratic party was wholly rejected in 2016. Those GOPers who want to stay relevant need to start answering to those voters who have made it clear that they support Trump in putting America first.
“And Barbara Comstock was another one I mean I think she could have won that race, but she didn’t want to have any embrace,” Trump continued. “For that I don’t blame her. But she uh, she lost, substantially lost. Peter Roskam didn’t want the embrace, Erik Paulsen didn’t want the embrace and in New Jersey I think he could have done well but didn’t work out too good. Bob Hugin, I feel badly because I think that’s something that could have been won, that’s a race that could have been won. John Faso. Those are some of the people that you know decided for their own reason not to embrace whether it’s me or what we stand for, but what we stand for meant a lot to most people.”
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CNN’s Jake Tapper compared Trump to a gangster for suggesting that the losing congresspeople were not loyal enough to him. But it is not loyalty to him that Trump cares about – he specifically referenced “what we stand for.” And “what we stand for” is listening to the Republican voters’ demands, and trying to meet those demands.
The press conference was a tumultuous one, featuring and extra-feisty exchange during which Trump sparred with CNN’s Jim Acosta and NBC’s Peter Alexander.
Trump was certainly tough before the Democrats took the House. It looks like he will only get tougher from here.