Donald Trump’s ‘big announcement’ dead on arrival after midterms results reveal scale of his self-delusion

In the unlikely setting of Cambodia, where the US waged war alongside its South Vietnamese allies in 1970, President Joe Biden found himself celebrating the Democratic Party’s triumph in the Senate on Saturday night.

He was in Phnom Penh when he received word that he will not be a lame duck in the Presidency for the next two years. The re-election of Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada returned the Senate to his party’s control, and from the Cambodian capital he jumped on the phone to congratulate her and Charles Schumer, now guaranteed a second term as Senate majority leader.

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The two men will have also have discussed the knife-edge outlook for the make-up of the House of Representatives, with Republican dreams of even a modest majority there shattered by the latest ongoing vote counts.

Even if Republicans win by one-or-two seats, their capacity to launch full-throated impeachment investigations of the Biden administration will be tempered not just by the numbers, but by the broader understanding that their party has been humbled at the polls.

In the words of The Atlantic magazine voters have demonstrated that “Trumpism has become toxic… to the immense, restless middle of the American electorate”.

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That view is rejected at Mar-A-Lago, where Donald Trump spent the weekend planning and rehearsing Tuesday night’s “big announcement”.

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the press on the grounds of his Mar-a-Lago resort on midterm elections night in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. November 8, 2022. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo/File Photo
Trump is said to be livid about the midterm results and only listening to a tight knit group of advisors (Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters)

That news of the Democrats’ victory in the Senate has further bruised him is not in doubt. The question now is whether the midterms, and the absence of the Republican wave of support that he promised to mobilise, have left his planned presidential campaign dead on arrival.

Mr Trump’s advisers have spent the last several days trying – but failing – to persuade Mar-A-Lago’s owner to postpone Tuesday night’s launch.

Most presidential aspirants traditionally spend weeks pouring over midterm results and understanding the trove of voter data that they reveal.

Not Mr Trump, who persuaded himself that the election’s outcome would serve as the launch pad for his return to the Oval Office, and used his appearance at one final pre-election rally in Ohio to put the party on notice that his re-animation was about to begin.

Last week, as the results revealed the scale of that self-delusion, Mr Trump’s presidential trial balloon was being shot down even before it had taken off.

The opening salvos were fired by Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, with the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and Fox News banding together to send an unmistakable message to Mr Trump and his inner circle.

The New York Post’s front-page splash described re-elected Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, as “DeFuture” of the Republican Party. Twenty-four hours later, the paper splashed a caricature of Donald Trump hanging precariously from a wall and describing him as “Trumpty Dumpty”.

Over at The Wall Street Journal, things were even worse. Its editorial page called Mr Trump “the Republican Party’s biggest loser”, telling readers that “Trumpy Republican candidates failed at the ballot box in states that were clearly winnable”.

Fox News has enjoyed a long, cosy relationship with Governor DeSantis and last Wednesday featured a host of analysts blaming Mr Trump for the Republican gloom.

Many of its anchors joined the chorus by week’s end, with even primetime host (and normally-fervent Mr Trump supporter) Laura Ingraham observing that “the populist movement is about ideas, it is not about one person”.

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Mr Trump disagrees, and with no other hand left to play, he’s busy blaming everyone else for the Republicans’ woes. In a slew of angry statements released to the media, and published via his proprietary “Truth Social” app, he described several candidates for whom he had only recently campaigned as “enemies and losers”, and called widespread reports about his fury over the results as a “fake narrative from the corrupt media”.

Fresh attacks were launched on Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate. Mr Trump blames him for costing the party House and Senate seats by rejecting the former President’s entirely false claims about election fraud.

Finally, lest his own supporters were questioning his capacities, Mr Trump urged them to “Remember, I am a ‘Stable Genius’”.

So the stage is set for the “Stable Genius” to press ahead with his presidential announcement on Tuesday night. Like a wolf marking its terrain, he believes he will benefit from entering the race before any other Republican, and especially ahead of Governor DeSantis.

It is for Mr DeSantis that Mr Trump now displays particular enmity. In statements (both verbal and written) he dismisses the Governor as “Ron DeSantimonious”, claims credit for his 2018 election victory and expresses fury over the Florida Republican’s perceived disloyalty.

Mr DeSantis, who has consistently kept Trump firmly at arm’s length, may view all of that as a badge of honour, further cementing his opportunity to present himself as the party’s saviour. But only when the time is right.

Inews.. .

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