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Apparently Unable to Read the Room, Donald Trump Announces 2024 Bid for President

The twice-impeached, twice-popular-vote-losing former president made his announcement shortly after a disappointing midterm election for Republicans.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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.

Rick Scott, Who Oversaw One of the Largest Medicaid Frauds in History, Wants to Be Senate GOP Leader

Well, if the leader is supposed to accurately represent their party … maybe not a bad choice!

Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Florida Senator Rick Scott announced his intention to run for the Senate Republican leader, challenging current leader Mitch McConnell.

It’s not surprising Scott is attempting to become the Senate minority leader after chairing the committee (the National Republican Senatorial Committee) tasked with giving Republicans the majority. After all, he has a history of failing upward.

The former hospital company CEO oversaw what was the biggest case of Medicare fraud at the time. Under his leadership, Columbia/HCA gave kickbacks to doctors to refer patients and then made patients’ conditions appear worse than they were so Medicare would pay more.

When Scott was forced out of the company as it was under investigation, he left with $300 million in stock, a $5.1 million severance, and a $950,000-per-year consulting contract for five years. The hospital, meanwhile, was fined $1.7 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in history until that point.

Now, as Scott guns for a promotion, he’s looking to shirk accountability once again.

“Like each of you, I am deeply disappointed by the results of the recent election,” Scott said in a letter to his colleagues announcing his candidacy. “Despite what the armchair quarterbacks on TV will tell you, there is no one person responsible for our party’s performance across the country. I know there is no shortage of people who are eager to point fingers and assign blame here in Washington, but I won’t be one of them.”

Unfortunately for Scott, fingers are largely pointed at him.

For months, Scott was criticized for seeming more interested in laying the groundwork for a potential 2024 presidential bid than sufficiently managing the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. From cutting NRSC ads featuring himself rather than fellow Republicans to visiting Iowa, Scott hasn’t exactly toned down obvious ambition.

Meanwhile, the NRSC under Scott has been under fire for mismanaging funds and lacking the wherewithal to fund critical races. “If they [NRSC] were a corporation, the CEO would be fired and investigated,” one Republican consultant told The Washington Post.

And in the lead-up to the midterm election—the red wave that never was—Rick Scott released a blueprint of his policy priorities. In it, he included a proposal to sunset all federal programs, including Social Security and Medicare, in five years. Restarting those programs would require federal reauthorization. Such a move would threaten the programs’ stability as their budget levels go through negotiations that can drag on, leaving recipients at risk of losing out on benefits.

Republicans criticized Scott for releasing the plan that, though realistically in line with the GOP’s stance of cutting public benefits, allowed Democrats to readily campaign about such a risk.

Scott is not expected to triumph in his bid for GOP Senate leader. And if McConnell wins reelection, he will become the longest-serving party leader in Senate history. While tensions broil in D.C., the two senators’ camps continue the battle online.

May the worst man win.

Tom Emmer Wins the Thankless Task of Corralling the GOP’s Likely Narrow House Majority

Meet the Minnesota Republican who led the party’s midterm campaigns.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
Representative Tom Emmer listens to Kevin McCarthy on election night at what was supposed to be a victory party.

When I profiled Representative Tom Emmer for The New Republic’s summer issue previewing the midterms, the Minnesota Republican seemed to be on a gilded path toward rising through his party’s ranks and wielding the power he’s long sought in Washington. As the chair of the National Republican Campaign Committee, Emmer was expected to oversee a “red wave” surge that would produce a massive GOP House majority, collecting IOUs and plaudits from new members along the way. Instead, Republicans still don’t control the Senate, and the House has yet to be called a week after the midterms, with an exceedingly narrow GOP majority.

As a result, instead of a smooth ride up the ranks, Emmer only narrowly bested Indiana Representative Jim Banks 115–106 on Tuesday to become the GOP Whip.

The whip, the third-ranking spot in House leadership, is primarily tasked with keeping party members in line and corralling votes on tough bills. Thanks to the probable narrow majority, which means that just a few stray defections from the likes of Matt Gaetz and Majorie Taylor Greene could tank the party’s aspirations, that job could end up being more of a nightmare for the next two years.

I wrote about Emmer over the summer since I’ve covered his political aspirations off and on for over a decade now. Back in 2010, Emmer was Minnesota’s Republican nominee for governor. He became known nationally as one of the ur–Tea Party candidates defining the backlash to Barack Obama’s presidency and to the RINOs who had long been the face of the GOP. As I wrote then of Emmer’s time ahead of his gubernatorial run:

He “embodied a lot of the positive attributes of Trump before Trump was cool,” said Marty Seifert, the former Republican minority leader when Emmer was in the state legislature. “Outspoken, tell it like it is. Some people may not like you because of what you say, but I’m going to say it anyway.” …

His tenure was defined by pushing far-right policy: proposals that Minnesota should chemically castrate sex offenders, impose strict voter ID laws, and outlaw abortion in all instances (as well as proposals that would also potentially outlaw certain forms of contraception and in vitro fertilization). He questioned evolution and was one of the loudest, most influential opponents of same-sex marriage. And despite two earlier DUI infractions, Emmer put forth bills to lessen penalties for drunk driving, which became fodder for opponents in later political campaigns.

Another of Emmer’s obsessions was pushing cockamamie ways that Minnesota could nullify federal laws. He was one of three co-authors of a 2010 proposal for a state constitutional amendment that would have required the governor and a two-thirds vote by legislators to approve a federal law before it could be enforced in Minnesota.

But unlike other Tea Partiers who rode the backlash against Democrats to great success in 2010, Emmer lost his campaign. He slunk away for a few years—serving time working for anti-gay-marriage groups and as a morning radio shock jock—before Michele Bachmann retired from her deep-red seat and Emmer took her place. As I wrote for Mother Jones back in 2014, Emmer had “closely replicated the Bachmann model” and was the heir apparent to carry on her pugilistic style of politics in Washington. But when he came to the Capitol, he largely receded from the limelight, sticking to his conservative views but focusing on rising through the ranks behind the scenes, eventually chairing the NRCC in 2020—when Republicans actually won more seats than Democrats despite Donald Trump losing to Joe Biden—and repeating that role in the promising 2022 cycle. “When [he was] first elected to the Minnesota House, compromise was probably not part of his M.O.,” former Minnesota House Speaker Steve Sviggum told me. “I think today there’s much more awareness of cooperation and compromise, while still having extremely conservative values.”

But between the surprising outcome of the midterms and that sense of seeking compromise, Emmer almost lost his leadership role. He reportedly earned the ire of Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson, and The National Review wrote a scathing article denouncing his whip bid this week, arguing, “He deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the GOP’s dismal showing in the House.” Still, he held on, but trying to convince an unruly cohort of extremists that he helped secure reelection will be no easy task in the months ahead.

To learn more about who Emmer is—from how he peddled election denial ahead of January 6 to his time as a “hothead” in the Minnesota state legislature—read the full profile here.

Republicans Nominate Trump Favorite Kevin McCarthy as Next House Speaker

House Republicans voted 188–31 for the California representative.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy, a major ally of former President Donald Trump, was nominated to be the next speaker of the House on Tuesday.

House Republicans voted 188–31 for the California representative, who beat farther-right Arizona Representative Andy Biggs for the nomination.

The Republican Party is one seat away from taking control of the House of Representatives. If they do, then the full chamber will vote on whether McCarthy should be speaker on January 3, once the new Congress is sworn in. McCarthy will need a total of 218 votes to win the spot.

But it’s not clear if he’ll have all those votes. His own party is not unified behind him, despite Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene urging her colleagues to back him. Florida Representative Matt Gaetz told reporters McCarthy “does not have 218 votes to become speaker. I don’t think he has 200.”

Gaetz had previously said he would back Representative Jim Jordan for speakership, not McCarthy. Dozens of conservative leaders on Monday penned a letter calling for a delay in the House leadership vote until next month.

While 31 votes against McCarthy’s nomination isn’t a small number, it also isn’t totally out of the norm. In November 2018, 32 Democrats voted against nominating Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.

McCarthy, the House minority leader, has made no secret of his ambitions to move up in the chamber—and he’s starting to get a little desperate. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the minority leader’s team had made several calls to Texas Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar asking him to switch parties, giving McCarthy an extra vote.

Cuellar turned them down, the Journal said, citing anonymous sources familiar with the calls.

Is Matt Gaetz Trying to Sneak His Way Out of Trump’s 2024 Announcement?

Gaetz said he couldn’t make it because the weather wasn’t looking good for his flight. But planes seem to be flying just fine.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Representative Matt Gaetz was slated to join Donald Trump for the former president’s third presidential announcement in Mar-a-Lago Tuesday night. But the Florida representative might be trying to wiggle out of it. Apparently, inclement weather is inhibiting his flight.

However, as New York Times reporter Jane Coaston pointed out, flights from Washington D.C. to Florida are all running just fine—regardless of which airport one may be flying from.

Gaetz, a proudly self-declared MAGA Republican, was among those challenging Kevin McCarthy’s House leadership. Trump, for his part, supported McCarthy’s nomination as House speaker.

But there has otherwise been no clear indicator of Gaetz also defecting from Trump. Last week, the representative spoke out amid calls from Republicans to ditch Trump following a disappointing midterm election, insisting that “only Trump can be trusted to enact the ‘America First’ agenda he ran on in 2016. We won’t accept any imitation.”

However, much has changed since even last week. As more elections have been declared, Trump’s mark has continued to decay—over 30 candidates he endorsed have lost, including far-right stars like Kari Lake and Blake Masters.

Meanwhile, even more Republicans have spoken out against Trumpism—from New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and outgoing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis and Trump’s former vice president (and potential competitor) Mike Pence.

Given the building pressure, it would not be out of the question for Gaetz to have second thoughts—or at least to cover his bases by ensuring he wasn’t in the photos for Trump’s announcement.

While Tuesday’s weather still welcomes Gaetz to safely fly down for Trump’s announcement, he may be navigating the thorny broader political climate instead by choosing not to.

Judge Overturns Georgia’s “Plainly Unconstitutional” Six-Week Abortion Ban

Most people don’t know they’re pregnant at only six weeks.

Megan Varner/Getty Images

A judge in Georgia on Tuesday overturned the state’s ban on abortions after six weeks, a major win for women and gender minorities.

Georgia had passed a law in 2019 banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is as early as six weeks—before many people even know they are pregnant—but the legislation only took effect after the Supreme Court rolled back the nationwide right to the procedure in June.

A group of doctors and advocacy groups sued Georgia in July, seeking to strike down the law. Judge Robert McBurney sided with them Tuesday, ruling that the six-week ban “did not become the law of Georgia when it was enacted and it is not the law of Georgia now.”

Not only are two sections of the law “plainly unconstitutional,” but “there is no legal basis” for the statewide ban at all, he said in his ruling.

A spokesperson for the Georgia attorney general told the AP that they plan to appeal the decision.

The ruling is a huge win for people in Georgia, where Republican Brian Kemp was just reelected governor. Kemp had refused to say during a debate against Stacey Abrams whether he would sign more abortion restrictions into law if reelected.

Abrams had slammed his nonanswer, warning that “women are in danger” under this governor.

Her accusation was backed up by health professionals, who warned in a study that if abortion is banned in Georgia, maternal mortality will increase 29 percent. If the procedure is banned nationwide, then maternal mortality will rise 24 percent overall.

Maternal mortality among Black people nationwide will skyrocket 39 percent.

The United States already has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, and Georgia has the second-highest rate in the country, of 48.4 deaths out of 100,000 births, according to the World Population Review.

Steven Crowder and Others Urge Election Denialist Kari Lake Not to Concede

Conspiracy theories abound after Kari Lake lost the Arizona governor race.

Jon Cherry/Bloomberg/Getty Images

“I guess today, we are all ‘election deniers,’” tweeted right-wing commentator Steven Crowder Tuesday morning. Crowder is among those stirring conspiracy about Kari Lake’s loss to Katie Hobbs in Arizona’s gubernatorial race. “DO NOT CONCEDE,” Crowder insisted.

Before the election, Crowder suggested a peaceful transfer of power was overrated. And after the election, Crowder switched to peddling conspiracy theories to over 80,000 Rumble viewers on his program Louder With Crowder.

One of these theories involved polling locations in Maricopa County, where ballot printers were not producing ink dark enough to be read by tabulators. But in reality, the county’s election officials—largely Republicans—had numerous solutions in place so all votes could be soundly counted.

Crowder and his panel also couldn’t believe that longtime Arizona Republican and incumbent Treasurer Kimberly Yee won more votes than inflammatory John McCain–slamming Kari Lake. The panel almost approached some self-awareness on that notion.

“We’re spending a lot of our time right now thinking, ‘Did we get cheated, did we really lose?’” panelist Gerald Morgan Jr. said. “I’m spending most of my time on this instead of going, ‘OK, well hey, we lost, why did we lose? Was it because Kari Lake took a giant steaming dump on John McCain and maybe she played better nationally than she played in Arizona?’ OK, maybe. I highly doubt it.”

Crowder and company have not been alone in sowing distrust in Kari Lake’s lost election. Former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social that “they just took the election away from Kari Lake.”

Right-wing commentator Todd Starnes echoed Crowder’s call:

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell alleged “computer manipulation:”

The list goes on. These voices all fall in line behind Lake herself, who has spent a good majority of her campaign sowing conspiracy and distrust in elections (as if not only trying to curry favor with Trump but to prepare for her own loss the whole time).

After losing, Lake took to Twitter, showing she had no intention of conceding for the time being:

It’s not shocking that Lake, whose campaign has largely been about denying truth, has yet to concede. But nearly every other big-ticket election denialist who has run and lost thus far has conceded.

Online commentators may try to keep Lake’s false hope alive, but it won’t be enough. Congressional Republicans now are largely occupied with picking new leadership and navigating a dangerously slim House majority. They, just like most of the country and like Arizona voters, are moving on from Lake—whether right-wing commentators believe it or not.

Who Is Andy Biggs? More on the Man Challenging McCarthy for House Speaker

The far-right lawmaker from Arizona is a big supporter of Donald Trump.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Arizona Representative Andy Biggs intends to challenge Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the house.

The far-right lawmaker announced his plan Monday night on Newsmax, as Republicans creep ever closer to controlling the House of Representatives.

Biggs was elected to Congress in 2016, when he campaigned on the goal of advancing then-President Donald Trump’s political agenda. He is a former chair of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of the most conservative politicians on the Hill.

Biggs has been subpoenaed by the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, but he has refused to cooperate. He has also made cruel jokes about the brutal attack on current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband.

We’re going to show Nancy Pelosi the door very shortly,” he said during an election night event. “Don’t let it hit you on the backside, Nancy. She’s losing the gavel but finding the hammer.”

McCarthy, the House minority leader, has made no secret of his ambitions to move up in the chamber. Despite the distinct lack of the promised “red wave” on election night, McCarthy was already campaigning to be speaker of the House.

But his party is clearly not unified behind him. Dozens of conservative leaders on Monday penned a letter calling for a delay in the House leadership vote until next month.

And although far-right Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has urged her colleagues to back McCarthy, Biggs is not the only challenger he will face. Representative Steve Scalise is also running to be majority leader. Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz has said he backs Jim Jordan for House speaker, and Virginia Representative Bob Good also spoke out against McCarthy.

McCarthy seems to be getting desperate. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the minority leader’s team had made several calls to Texas Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar asking him to switch parties, giving McCarthy an extra vote.

Cuellar turned them down, the Journal said, citing anonymous sources familiar with the calls.

Liz Cheney and Meghan McCain Are Straight Up Trolling Kari Lake

Kari Lake lost the Arizona governor race after repeatedly attacking Cheney and McCain Republicans.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

It looks like the potshots Kari Lake took on the campaign trail are coming back to bite her.

People including Representative Liz Cheney and Meghan McCain, both of whom Lake insulted while running for Arizona governor, celebrated the MAGA Republican’s loss Tuesday.

On the campaign trail, Lake had embraced conspiracy theories and bashed both Cheney and McCain’s father, John McCain. When Cheney released an attack ad against Lake, the former Phoenix news anchor mockingly thanked her for the “anti-endorsement.”

Lake had also called late Arizona Senator John McCain a “loser” and boasted after winning the primary that she and her supporters “drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine.” At one of her final rallies before Election Day, she said if there were any McCain supporters present, they should “get the hell out.”

And then she lost Monday night to Democrat Katie Hobbs.

“Beautiful morning to all of you,” Meghan McCain tweeted Tuesday, sharing a link to a National Review article titled “McCain Republicans Vote, Too.”

She also posted a photo of her father and Lake the night before.

Cheney retweeted Lake’s thank you statement and said, “You’re welcome.”

Although the gubernatorial race had come down to the wire, Hobbs had maintained a steady lead over Lake during the entire weeklong vote-counting process.

MSNBC reporter Vaughn Hillyard, who covered Lake for the past 18 months, was clear on why she lost.

Lake “predicated her campaign on trying to sell” Donald Trump’s conspiracy that he really won the 2020 election, Hillyard said, pointing out that Arizona has “rejected Trumpism” for the past three election cycles.

She had campaigned with major Trump allies such as Steve Bannon, and promoted Trumpist messages including white supremacy and attacking election officials. And then she—and a slew of other Trump-backed candidates—lost big on election night.

Lake “was the latest one to fall, essentially making it a clean sweep,” Hillyard said. “And now Donald Trump is going to go and try to run on the very message that all these people lost on.”

Nearly Every Republican Tulsi Gabbard Endorsed Lost the Election

Since leaving the Democratic Party, Gabbard endorsed 13 Republican candidates. Ten lost.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

On October 11, Tulsi Gabbard proudly announced her departure from the Democratic Party. Calling on “fellow common sense independent-minded Democrats” to join her, Gabbard wasted no time on her new path, endorsing 13 Republicans before the midterm elections.

Many of the races were high-stakes. Among Gabbard’s endorsements were election denialists and conspiracy theorists.

Ten out of the 13 candidates she endorsed went on to lose their election.

Here is a full list of her failed endorsements:

House

  • John Gibbs, Michigan’s 3rd district
  • Tom Barrett, Michigan’s 7th district
  • Joe Kent, Washington’s 3rd district

Senate

  • Blake Masters, Arizona
  • Adam Laxalt, Nevada
  • Don Bolduc, New Hampshire

Governor

  • Kari Lake, Arizona
  • Darren Bailey, Illinois
  • Tudor Dixon, Michigan
  • Lee Zeldin, New York

Only three candidates she endorsed won the election: J.D. Vance for Ohio senator, Mike Lee for Utah senator, and Kristi Noem for South Dakota governor.

Gabbard’s shift to the right is not surprising. Beyond appearing at CPAC this year, she has found a home in right-wing media for some time. There, she has focused less on bringing conservatives closer to her and more on bringing herself closer to them—criticizing the impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump as “partisan,” complaining about “open borders,” and even filling in for Tucker Carlson on his show.

Though Gabbard’s endorsements have largely failed, her efforts are paying dividends for her own self-interest. On Monday, MAGA Republican Matt Gaetz floated Gabbard as a potential speaker of the House candidate. That same day, Gabbard officially signed a deal with Fox News to join the network as a paid contributor. And in the evening, Gabbard once again hosted Carlson’s program.

If Gabbard expected to coast into the GOP on a red wave, one bolstered by her “free-thinking” endorsements, she might be disappointed with the results. She’s not alone, of course. Donald Trump has an even longer list of failed endorsements. Now both seek to fail upward—Gabbard, as she becomes a mainstay of the right-wing media sphere, and Trump, who is expected to soon announce his third consecutive bid for the presidency.