Takeaways From Trump’s Midterms News Conference: ‘People Like Me’

Takeaways From Trump’s Midterms News Conference: ‘People Like Me’

WASHINGTON — President Trump gave a wide-ranging, nearly 90-minute news conference on Wednesday, boasting about the Republicans’ victories a day earlier, even as his party lost control of the House.

The president brandished new “historic” statistics, familiar complaints about what he described as the hostile news media and self-praise for personally delivering important victories.

Republicans retained and strengthened their majority in the Senate, defeating three Democratic incumbents, but they lost their grip on the House, ceding 26 seats to Democrats.

Though this year’s midterm elections reflected a deeply divided nation, with some voters who supported Mr. Trump in the 2016 election choosing Democratic candidates this time around, Mr. Trump said the greatest lesson from Tuesday’s results was that “people like me.”

“People like the job I’m doing, frankly,” he said.

Here are some key takeaways from the president’s postelection news conference.

“Candidates who embraced our message of low taxes, low regulations, low crime, strong borders and great judges excelled last night,” Mr. Trump said, rattling off states where he campaigned for winning candidates.

The Republicans who distanced themselves from Mr. Trump, he said, “they did very poorly.”

Mr. Trump pointed to Representative Mia Love of Utah, who was losing to the Democrat Ben McAdams. Ms. Love has been a critic of Mr. Trump’s immigration talk.

“Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost. Too bad,” Mr. Trump said. “Sorry about that, Mia.”

Despite his 13-year marriage to Melania Trump, a native of Slovenia who speaks English with an accent, the president had a difficult time on Wednesday understanding questions from foreign journalists.

First, Mr. Trump called on a reporter from Japan and asked him to “please go ahead,” only to interrupt seconds later to ask where the reporter was from.

The president also cut off a reporter from Lebanon to issue the same query.

When that reporter continued and asked about something President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey had said, Mr. Trump stepped in and said, “Who said that?” When the reporter repeated himself, Mr. Trump assured the room that he knew Mr. Erdogan was the president of Turkey and said, “I just don’t understand,” referring to the reporter’s accent.

A PBS reporter asked Mr. Trump about calling himself a “nationalist” last month while he was campaigning.

“That’s such a racist question,” Mr. Trump said, after stating that his polling with African-American people had improved.

“To say that, what you said, is so insulting to me,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s a very terrible thing that you said.”

Jim Acosta of CNN, who has tussled with the president at news conferences in the past, asked Mr. Trump about whether he was concerned about the special counsel’s Russia investigation and possible indictments.

[Read about the exchange here.]

Mr. Trump tersely rejected that notion, calling the investigation a hoax, and told Mr. Acosta to “put down the mic.”

When Mr. Acosta held his ground, Mr. Trump said, “CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”

“Mike, will you be my running mate? Huh?” Mr. Trump asked after he told a reporter that he planned to have Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate in his 2020 re-election bid.

“Stand up. Raise your right hand? No, I’m only kidding. Will you? Thank you,” Mr. Trump said after Mr. Pence reassured him from the crowd. “O.K., good. The answer is ‘yes.’”

Even as the race for Senator Jeff Flake’s replacement in the Senate had yet to be determined by midday Wednesday, Mr. Trump boasted about his role in Mr. Flake’s decision to retire, praising himself for a “great service” to the country by speaking out against the senator from Arizona.

“In Jeff Flake’s case, it’s me. Pure and simple,” Mr. Trump said. “I retired him. I’m very proud of it.”

“He is retired,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he would like to call the Republican senator “another word.”

(At the time of the news conference, the Republican candidate, Martha McSally, was in the lead in the Arizona race.)

Mr. Flake has been a fierce critic of the president, which cost him support in his state. Mr. Flake announced last year that he would not seek another term, saying that he would no longer be “complicit or silent” about the president’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified” behavior.

“I really believe that we have a chance to get along very well with the Democrats,” Mr. Trump said, “and if that’s the case, we can do a tremendous amount of legislation and get it approved by both parties.”

But if the Democrats use their majority to investigate and subpoena him?

“If they do that, then it’s just, all it is is a warlike posture,” the president said.

“They can play that game, but we can play it better,” Mr. Trump said, pledging to direct the Republican-led Senate to investigate Democrats for leaks of classified information.

“I’m better at that game than they are actually, but we’ll find out,” he said. “I mean, you know, we’ll find out, or we can work together.”

“I’d rather answer that at a little bit different time,” Mr. Trump said, when asked about coming personnel changes, specifically the job security of his attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

After the news conference concluded, Mr. Trump tweeted that he planned to replace Mr. Sessions as attorney general with Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker.

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