Republicans failed to take the Senate from Democrats and gained only a small margin to control the House. Many of the Republican losses in swing states came to candidates running on pro-Trump, 2020 election denialism platforms. Some Republican leaders say they do not see Trump’s election lie narrative and strategy of divisiveness as the future of the party.
“I want someone who is going to unite our party,” said South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds (R, he/him) after Trump’s announcement. “That’s how we win elections. A reasonable person who would unite the party.”
Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence (R, he/him), speaking of midterms, told Fox News that “candidates focused on the future did well. Candidates that focused on the past or relitigating the past did not fare as well.”
While the field for the nomination is wide, Trump’s announcement is likely to whittle the contenders down to major players like Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (he/him). New re-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (he/him) is also a highly anticipated candidate. A November poll from Quinnipiac University reported that 6 in 10 Republicans said they would like to see DeSantis be nominated. Pence, Pompeo, and DeSantis all recently attended the first “cattle call” for potential candidates at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas.
While the run for the nomination is heating up, Trump provoked criticism for his connections to political extremists. A week after announcing his candidacy, Trump had dinner with rapper Ye (he/him), who legally changed his name from Kanye West. Ye has stirred controversy with his recent antisemitic comments. Also at the dinner was Nick Fuentes (he/him), a white supremacist internet personality, Holocaust denier, and Trump loyalist. Trump has since stated that Fuentes was a guest brought unannounced by Ye, and that he had no prior knowledge of Fuentes’ beliefs.