DeSantis, Without Naming Trump, Slams ‘Underwhelming’ Midterms for GOP
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“Independent voters aren’t voting for our candidates,” Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said at an event hours before Donald Trump was expected to announce a third presidential bid. “That’s a problem.”
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- Nov. 15, 2022, 2:25 p.m. ET
MIAMI — Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida gave a blunt assessment on Tuesday of Republicans’ shortcomings in the midterm elections, getting in a not-so-subtle dig at former President Donald J. Trump not long before Mr. Trump is expected to announce a third White House bid.
“There were a lot, a lot of disappointments,” Mr. DeSantis told reporters at an event in Fort Walton Beach when asked about Mr. Trump’s planned announcement on Tuesday night. “That’s just the reality. It was a hugely underwhelming, disappointing performance, especially given that Biden’s policies are overwhelmingly unpopular.”
The governor made no mention of the former president. But he appeared to relish contrasting the poor showing last week by many of Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidates with his own landslide re-election victory and successes by other Republicans in Georgia, Ohio and Texas.
“Some of the others,” he said, without naming names or tying them to Mr. Trump, had not fared well. “These independent voters aren’t voting for our candidates, even with Biden in the White House and the failures that we’re seeing. That’s a problem.”
Shortly before Mr. Trump’s announcement at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday night, Mr. DeSantis, perhaps the most prominent early 2024 contender not named Trump, is scheduled to deliver a private keynote dinner address to Republican governors and donors gathered for the Republican Governors Association conference in Orlando.
Pressed to comment about the former president’s intentions, Mr. DeSantis instead boasted about his accomplishments.
“At the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night,” he said to applause.
His 19-percentage-point winning margin eclipsed that of any of his Republican predecessors. Florida voters elected more Republican lawmakers to the State Legislature than ever before, giving him supermajorities with which to notch future policy victories.
The state also elected 20 Republicans to Congress, up from 16, after Mr. DeSantis pushed to gerrymander boundaries and redraw districts held by Black lawmakers. Most candidates he supported for local school boards, which are technically nonpartisan, also won.
“We were on offense,” he said, “and we didn’t shy away from big issues.”
That appealed not only to Republican voters and independents, he added, but also to Democrats, Hispanic voters and women — demographic groups that do not typically cast ballots for Republicans. “You don’t win by a million and a half votes if you only get your own party,” he said.
He won Miami-Dade County and, he emphasized, Palm Beach County.
“We won Palm Beach County, which has not been won by a Republican for governor by almost 40 years,” he said.
Unsaid: that Mr. Trump lives there.
Mr. DeSantis concluded by floating the possibility of several special legislative sessions to pursue the sort of conservative policies that have given him a big national profile.
“I think we’re going to have a very robust agenda,” he said, “and I think people will be very pleased with the additional points we’ll be able to put up on the board.”