Republicans seemingly received another dire midterm warning on Tuesday when Democrat Conor Lamb likely won a narrow presumed victory over Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in a Pennsylvania district that President Trump carried by 20 points.
But on Trump’s favorite morning show, the analysis was largely confined to comforting the president’s ego by reassuring him and Republicans that the Democratic victor was really just a conservative.
During four separate instances of Wednesday’s three-hour broadcast, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy insisted that Lamb—an outspoken advocate for universal health care, Social Security, and against money in politics—is really just a Republican.
“Conor Lamb ran as Republican,” Doocy opined. “He is a Democrat running as a Republican, in a Republican district will not exist after November. So if he does win, it is just a job for a couple months.”
Later in the show, Doocy added: “What's interesting about this particular thing that is too close to call is they both ran as Republicans.”
Co-host Ainsley Earhardt agreed. “He was more moderate... and had more of a Republican agenda than a Democratic agenda,” she declared.
To deliver this Trump-comforting analysis, the hosts conveniently papered over Lamb’s policy positions: They said Lamb supported the Republican tax plan (he did not); they said he supported the president’s hardline immigration-enforcement policies (Lamb supported helping so-called DREAMers and undocumented immigrants “come out of the shadows”); and they said he “stood with Republican” on abortion (he has said he’s personally opposed, but supports a woman’s right to choose).
“If you are a Democrat, you have got to say ‘I have have to run from current leadership. I have to not disagree with President Trump’—because he was not taking on Trump on almost anything,” Kilmeade said. “He was obviously a Marine, so military background helps. He was pro the tax cut, he was pro-tariff, and he was pro-ICE. This guy ran and a prosecutor. So he ran very moderate.”
Doocy and co-host Brian Kilmeade further comforted Trump by arguing that the president’s visit to the district positively boosted Republican candidate Saccone’s vote totals.
“If you look at that last poll that came out in the last week it, looked like six points,” Doocy said. “Something drew it closer together, if you believe in polls. Maybe it was the president's visit, and visit from the Trump family.”
As it turns out, Fox & Friends largely echoed the Republican Party’s preferred talking points in distancing Trump and his policies from Tuesday’s apparent loss.
During a press appearance on Wednesday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the president for helping Saccone narrow the gap (in a district Trump won by nearly 20 points little over a year prior).
“I think the president helped close this race,” Ryan said. “I think you said the public polling. The public polling wasn’t looking so good, and the president came in and helped close this race and got it to where it is right now, which is within a few hundred votes.”