A senior source close to former President Donald Trump told CBS News that the former president has been privately infuriated over the results of the midterm elections, despite his posts on social media touting them as a win and a “great evening.”
According to the source, the former president has been “blaming everyone except himself” over the results, including his aides and Fox News host Sean Hannity. The person said Tuesday night’s better-than-expected results for Democrats were mainly due to the elections becoming “a referendum” on Trump, his candidate picks, and his continued focus on relitigating the 2020 election.
As of Wednesday, CBS News estimated the Senate is a toss-up, with four contests yet to be called. Two of those contests were toss-ups, and one of those, Georgia, will go to a runoff in December. The race in Arizona, meanwhile, is leaning Democratic. Alaska used ranked-choice voting and results could take a while, although the two leading candidates are Republicans.
CBS News characterizes the House as leaning Republican. As of Wednesday evening, projections showed Republicans winning at least 210 seats and Democrats had won at least 200 seats. At least 218 seats are needed for control. So if the GOP does get a majority, it will be a slim one.
Trump has said that he will be making a “very big announcement” at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday, hinting at a possible 2024 presidential run. But three sources who have been with him at Mar-a-Lago told CBS News that there is an internal debate over whether Trump should announce anything, be it an exploratory committee or a full-blown White House announcement, prior to the Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia.
“I’m advising the president to hold off until after the Georgia race, after Herschel Walker,” onetime Trump campaign spokesperson Jason Miller said on Newsmax Wednesday. “Priorities A, B and C need to be about Herschel right now. This is bigger than anything else in the country.”
A former White House aide in Trump’s orbit said he “should wait until the midterms are over, which won’t be before the Georgia runoff.”
If he announces a 2024 bid before then, the senior source close to Trump mentioned earlier said, “I don’t see a path forward.” If Trump announces before the Georgia runoff election, that election could become a referendum on Trump – similar to the 2020 Georgia runoff, when Republicans lost both seats.
The senior source close to Trump who told CBS News about the former president’s anger said the candidate quality issue was a real factor in this week’s elections. Trump based his midterm strategy not on political strategy but on political payback. The adviser said Trump picked some candidates “who don’t know what they are doing.”
The source, who is frustrated over Trump’s political missteps, compared the enthusiasm at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ victory rally, with a couple of thousand people in attendance, and his 19-point win to Trump’s event at Mar-a-Lago, with 100 of his friends and political consultants, and his high-profile losses. It is clear who American voters want, they said.
“This is a sinking ship,” the source said about the lack of enthusiasm for an emerging Trump 2024 campaign.
CBS News also spoke to Republican party officials who directly blamed the “candidate quality issue” — or Trump — for their losses Tuesday night.
Trump posted Wednesday on his social media platform Truth Social that while the outcome of the election could be considered “somewhat disappointing” to some, “from my personal standpoint it was a very big victory.”
— Kathryn Watson contributed to this report