Trump: Off the ballot but in the spotlight
by Harvest Prude
Posted 11/07/18, 02:38 pm
WASHINGTON—In a tense news conference Wednesday, President Donald Trump celebrated Republican Senate gains and largely dismissed the GOP loss of control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Trump called Republican Senate and gubernatorial victories “a tremendous success” and pointed to his own campaign efforts, saying he “stopped a blue wave that they talked about.” Republicans flipped Senate seats in Indiana, North Dakota, and Missouri and may flip one that’s still too close to call in Florida. The GOP’s strengthened majority will pave a smoother path to confirming Trump’s nominees to the judiciary, something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said was his highest priority at a news conference Wednesday morning.
Trump blamed the loss of the House majority on the number of retiring Republican lawmakers and on GOP candidates who distanced themselves from his agenda. He called out Reps. Mia Love of Utah, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, and Barbara Comstock of Virginia for not wanting to campaign with him. He did not mention allies like Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, who lost.
The president is already trying to counter the investigative threat raised by an opposition-controlled House, saying an obstructionist strategy could backfire on Democrats. He said if Democrats issued subpoenas, he would take a “warlike” stance and ask for Senate Republicans to retaliate with their own investigations. Trump called instead for Congress to work on bipartisan gains in trade, infrastructure, economic growth, and environmental policies.
Historically, the president’s party has suffered setbacks during midterms. President Barack Obama faced losses on Capitol Hill, while Republicans saw gains in the Senate in 2002 under President George W. Bush but lost in the 2006 midterms in what Bush memorably called “a thumpin’.”
In several hostile exchanges with reporters Wedndesday, Trump also addressed questions on turnover among White House staff, special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the divisive tone of American politics. In one tense exchange, African-American reporter Yamiche Alcindor with PBS asked if Trump, by calling himself a nationalist, emboldened white nationalists. “That’s a racist question,” he responded.
Prompted by a question from a reporter about his reelection plans, Trump asked Vice President Mike Pence if he would be his 2020 running mate. Pence stood to signal his affirmation, generating some applause among White House staff.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.