On Election Day 2022, Donald Trump couldn’t stand that the news of the day was going to be about … not him.
So as Republicans prepared a last day of campaigning in hopes of winning control of the House and Senate, Trump announced that he’d be making a “special announcement” in exactly one week.
But those seven days have been brutal for The Don. Nearly every election-denying candidate Trump endorsed lost. His hand-picked candidates in a slew of states, like Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, went down in a blaze of shame.
Then Republicans and political pundits put the blame for the GOP’s dismal showing squarely on Trump. Exit polls found that a hefty chunk of voters came out just to vote against Trump’s candidates, and his presence was enough to throw some close races to the Democrats.
So far, so bad. But then came announcement night. Trump held the event at the gaudy ballroom at Mar-a-Lago with an elite list of invited guests.
But as Trump bloviated, some of those people grew weary and decided it was time to leave. They were bored by what ABC’s Jonathan Karl called an “incredibly low energy” speech — which timed out at just over an hour — so they headed for the exits.
ABC’s Olivia Rubin shot a video of a crowd moving toward the doors to leave as Trump rambled on in the background.
“A crowd has formed by the exit of the ballroom as some try to leave Trump’s announcement speech before he has finished…. But security won’t let them,” she wrote on Twitter.
A crowd has formed by the exit of the ballroom as some try to leave Trump’s announcement speech before he has finished…. But security won’t let them. pic.twitter.com/O7C6QJfYgK
— Olivia Rubin (@OliviaRubinABC) November 16, 2022
Karl said, “I actually saw people trying to leave and people leaving early even before he was done. He’s still speaking now. And then they, I think perhaps a little concerned that the hall would empty out too much, they actually started preventing people from leaving, so now they’re no longer allowing people to leave.”
Not unexpectedly, CNN and MSNBC gave the speech short shrift. But surprisingly, Fox News cut away from his speech before he was finished and never came back.
And things are going from bad to worse already.
“Even the Tea Party isn’t fully behind former President Donald Trump, as one of the movement’s founders, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Chair Jenny Beth Martin, said her influential group wouldn’t weigh in to the 2024 race until the Georgia runoff had concluded,” the Daily Mail reported.
Once-cowed Republicans openly blamed Trump for the midterm election losses — something that wouldn’t occur if he still wielded the clout he once had. And they also began to openly discuss other possible nominees for 2024, from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
The talk got so far along that political pundits began speculating about whether Trump would play spoiler by running as a third-party candidate should he be shunned by the GOP in the nominating process.
Max Burns, founder and chief strategist at Third Degree Strategies, told the Mail he didn’t think Trump would stoop so low.
“After how poorly Donald Trump handled his loss in 2020, I’m not sure he’d be willing to stick his neck out for a third party bid that would almost guarantee not only his loss, but Biden’s sweeping re-election,” Burns said. “But Trump’s unpredictability worries even Republicans: there’s just no predicting what he’ll do if his ego is bruised.”
But David Greenberg. a presidential and cultural historian at Rutgers University, told the UK paper that knocking Trump out will be a tall order.
“I don’t think that the GOP can ‘cast Trump out.’ How? He has money and media exposure to run in the primaries and if he wins, he wins,’ Greenberg said. “On the other hand, if he loses and does run on a third-party ticket — a huge question mark — it would obviously be a problem for the Republicans.”
But the historian noted that even if Trump were to pull in 10% of the vote, that could kill the Republicans in 2024.
“In a nation divided almost 50/50, where most of our presidential elections come down to very close votes in a few evenly balanced states, both parties need to retain the full breadth of their coalitions,” Greenberg said.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.