President Joe Biden on Sunday touted the results of the midterm elections, with Democrats projected to maintain control of the U.S. Senate following Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s narrow defeat of Republican Adam Laxalt to win re-election in Nevada.
“We feel good about where we are. And I know I’m a cockeyed optimist,” Biden told reporters in Cambodia after NBC News and other news outlets projected that his party would keep a majority in the Senate. He added that he was “not surprised” by the turnout.
Democrats defeated several candidates backed by former President Donald Trump to hold onto at least 50 seats come 2023. Control of the House has not yet been determined, with several races too close to call.
Before Cortez Masto’s victory, which put Democrats over the threshold needed to secure a Senate majority, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona won his re-election contest in Arizona, defeating Republican Blake Masters, NBC News projected Friday evening. Both Laxalt and Masters were endorsed by Trump and boosted his false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, blamed his party’s underwhelming performance on candidates who campaigned on Trump’s election denialism.
“I learned that the American people want a way forward that actually focuses on ideas, ideas that will make their lives better, not just their lives but that for future generations,” Cassidy said. “Those who are most closely aligned with the former president under-performed. Those who are talking about the future or who had managed their states well, they overperformed. The American people want ideas. They want a future.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” Rep Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who chairs the Republican Study Committee, acknowledged that the election results were disappointing for his party and declined to endorse Trump, who has repeatedly suggested that he’ll soon announce a 2024 presidential bid.
Despite calling Trump a “very popular figure” in the GOP and a “very effective president,” Banks said he will save his “endorsement for another place.”
Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he thinks it’s time for the party to take a step back and figure out its priorities, pointing to Trump for their lackluster performance.
“It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race, and it’s like, three strikes, you’re out,” Hogan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“This should have been a huge red wave. It should have been one of the biggest red waves we’ve ever had,” he added, and “commonsense conservatives” who won had focused their campaign on issues popular among voters such as the economy and crime.
Democrats, meanwhile, joined Biden in celebrating their election wins, with some also pointing to Trump as the reason why they outperformed Republicans.
“So why did we win? Three reasons. First, we had great candidates. They had flawed candidates. Our candidates were talking about the issues. They cared about people. The incumbents had gotten a lot done. Their candidates were talking about lack of democracy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters at a news conference in New York on Sunday.
“Second, we won because we had a really good agenda that we actually passed that helped the American people on things they cared about,” Schumer said. “And third … we won because the American people rejected the kinds of autocracy that some, the MAGA Republicans, the wing of that party was talking about.”
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is “very proud” of Democratic candidates, who she said “knew their purpose.”
“They knew why they were running, to protect our democracy, save our planet, protect our values and the rest,” Pelosi said. “And they did not heed any guidance of ‘you should change your message.’ They knew their districts. They related to their constituents. And they have produced a great result.”
On “Meet the Press,” Anita Dunn, senior adviser to the president, said: “It’s very clear what President Biden and the Democratic Party are for. They are for working people, for middle class people, for policies that change what’s happened over the last 40 years in this country, where the wealthy just got wealthier, and the people at the top did well, and everybody else lost ground.”