Former national security adviser John Bolton called Donald Trump’s act “old and tired” and pointed to the rise of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as evidence that Republicans are ready to move on to a “fresh face.”
DeSantis has “had a very successful run as governor of Florida,” Bolton told the Guardian in an interview published Saturday. “He won re-election on 8 November with a big majority. A lot of people look to him as the next generation candidate. That’s one of Trump’s biggest problems – his act is old and tired now.”
Bolton, who served in the Trump administration from 2018 to 2019, said Republicans’ underwhelming performance in the midterm elections in which they won control of the House but not the Senate shows that voters are looking for new leadership.
“There are a lot of reasons to be against Trump being the nominee but the one I’m hearing now as I call around the country, talking to my supporters and others about what happened on 8 November, is the number of people who have just switched Trump off in their brain,” Bolton said.
“Even if they loved his style, loved his approach, loved his policies, loved everything about him, they don’t want to lose and the fear is, given the results on 8 November, that if he got the nomination, not only would he lose the general election, but he would take an awful lot of Republican candidates down with him,” Bolton told the publication.
Bolton’s comments add to the chorus of voices from Republicans and former Trump administration officials, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who are ready to move past the 76-year-old Trump.
In contrast, DeSantis posted a double-digit win over his challenger in the Sunshine State – a victory that has driven speculation that he will be the odds-on favorite to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024.
Bolton said his own polling shows Trump has been bleeding supporters over the past two years.
“One question we asked was: do you want Trump or do you want a fresh face? I think in our last poll over 50% said they wanted a fresh face. That’s only going to continue. I personally don’t think [President] Biden is going to end up running on the Democratic side and that’ll have an impact as well,” he said.
Trump, who is being investigated for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and for moving a trove of classified documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort, announced he would launch another White House bid a week after the midterm elections.
Bolton acknowledged that Trump still has some juice when it comes to promoting candidates in primary elections, but that influence doesn’t extend to the general election.
“There’s no doubt Trump’s endorsement in the primary can be very valuable to a candidate in the Republican Party. But relying on that endorsement or trumpeting yourself as the Trump-endorsed candidate is poisonous in the general election,” he said.
”So if you actually want to win elections, Trump is not the answer,” Bolton said.