Former and current Republican members of Congress refused to commit to the possibility of a Donald Trump bid for the presidency in interviews on conservative talk radio following the midterm elections.
With the results still being counted in some states, numerous members and former members speaking candidly took aim at the former president for the party’s subpar results – with some openly pointing to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a better candidate for the party.
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“There’s just a lot of negative attitudes about Trump,” Rep. Troy Nehls said on Houston Morning News. The Texas conservative once called Trump one of America’s greatest presidents after winning his endorsement in spring 2022.
On the Dom Giordano program, a conservative talk radio station in Pennsylvania, former Sen. Rick Santorum compared Trump to Moses in the Bible – but said it was time to move on.
“He changed, he transformed the Republican party, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the right guy to actually lead the party going forward into an era of governance and prosperity,” Santorum said.
“Just be happy you’re Moses, and it’s time to turn the page,” Santorum, who endorsed Trump in 2016, added.
On North Carolina talk radio on Thursday, former Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, the former vice chair of the Republican Conference blasted Trump for backing Mehmet Oz and others, adding that Trump had picked the “wrong horse” in many races. Trump backed Walker’s opponent in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s Senate seat, Ted Budd – who went on to win the race this week.
“You’re looking long term and taking a look, Ron DeSantis may be the guy,” said Walker, citing DeSantis’ lopsided win in Florida.
On the Steve Gruber Show, Republican Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan said the former president might need to change his message, when he was asked about Trump-endorsed candidates losing around the country,
“I don’t like that either,” Walberg, who Trump endorsed this cycle, said. “That that turned out that way, and it was somewhat unexpected. So I hope that President Trump, as he moves forward, really does a postmortem and thinks what this means to his message.”
Analyzing the results of the 2022 midterms, other Republican members of Congress declined to commit their support to Trump or another candidate.
“I think they got to get together and make a decision on who’s going to run,” Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland said on WCBM on Thursday.
Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, speaking on local radio on Friday on WZFG said he supported a wide open primary in 2024.
“Donald Trump’s statements about Ron DeSantis, I think demonstrated a significant flaw, frankly, in his ability to unify the party and unify the country,” Cramer said. “And so, as much as I’d love four years of Donald Trump, followed by eight years of Ron DeSantis, it’s those first four years that I would worry about us being able to achieve. We need to put our absolute best foot forward.”
“I’d say everybody ought to get into the race that’s interested in being in the race,” he added. “Put ‘em all on that stage again, everybody duke it out on the debate stage.”
On Bloomdaddy radio on Thursday, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania said Trump might consider being “kingmaker” in a 2024 Republican primary – but said the race was still Trump’s to lose.
“I know we’ve had conversations about this offline, but at this point that decision is between DeSantis and Trump,” he said. “And whether or not Trump is seeing that DeSantis’ star’s on the rise and he might be better being a kingmaker instead of risking running and losing the primary,” he said.
On WABC radio, Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said Republicans would need to rally around a candidate, whether it be DeSantis or Trump.
“We all need to be together in this and united rally around a candidate whether it’s gonna be President Trump, whether it’s gonna be Governor DeSantis,” she said.