If Donald Trump is worried about Democrats using an upset victory in Pennsylvania as a blueprint for winning big in the midterms, he didn’t let on.
Trump broke his silence on the election at a private fundraiser for Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley Wednesday night, telling a crowd of donors that Lamb had run “a pretty smart race, actually,” according to an audio recording of the remarks obtained by The Atlantic. Democrat Conor Lamb defeated Republican Rick Saccone in a district Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016.
“The young man last night that ran, he said, ‘Oh, I’m like Trump. Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything.’ He ran on that basis,” Trump said. “He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, ‘Is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.’”
Later on, he stressed Lamb’s appeal to many blue-collar conservatives, saying, “But I guess when you’re running in a certain area, that’s probably a good tactic.”
Trump had been unusually silent about the race on Wednesday, a departure from past elections Republicans have lost during his time as president. After Republican Ed Gillespie lost his gubernatorial bid in Virginia to Ralph Northam, a Democrat, Trump was quick to claim that Gillespie “did not embrace me or what I stand for.” And when Republican Roy Moore lost to a Democrat, Doug Jones, in a controversial Alabama Senate race, he said he “originally” knew that Moore would “not be able to win the general election.”