White House prepares to spin defeat as victory

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The White House is planning to tout Trump as the savior of Republicans in the Senate, even if the Democrats retake the House.

President Donald Trump and his allies have crafted a face-saving plan if Democrats trounce their way to a House majority — tout Trump as the savior of Republicans in the Senate.

In public and private, Trump and advisers are pointing to the president’s surge of campaigning on behalf of Republican Senate candidates — 19 rallies alone since Labor Day — as evidence that nobody else could have had a bigger impact in the states. The argument is classic Trump, who despite making the midterms a referendum on his own presidency, has a history of personalizing and then dwelling on his victories while distancing himself and diverting attention from his losses.

Should Republicans pick up Senate seats, “that’s all they’ll talk about,” said Barry Bennett, a presidential adviser on Trump’s 2016 campaign. “That’s where the math is in our favor.”

Even in the House, where Republicans are laboring to sustain their 23-seat majority, the White House is already dismissing any notion of a Democratic wave election on par with the Republican midterm pickups under former presidents Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway this week on “Fox & Friends” pointed to the 43 Republican House retirements as a major reason the GOP was likely to lose seats. She also tried to contrast the expected GOP losses with drubbings previous Democratic presidents have received. “No nonpartisan, sane prognosticator right now is predicting the 63 House seat losses that President Obama suffered in his first midterms in 2010, or even the 54” that Clinton lost in his first midterms in 1994, which gave Republicans the House for the first time in 40 years, she said.

A recent internal memo by White House political director Bill Stepien similarly contended that House Republicans’ goal this year is to minimize their losses.

“We do what we can with the situation,” a White House official said, using language similar to the memo, which cast the scenario for House Republicans as “challenging.”

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