White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday painted the results in the special election to fill a U.S. House seat in Georgia, which the leading Democrat narrowly missed winning outright, as a “big loss” for the party.
Democrat Jon Ossoff garnered 48 percent of the vote, just shy of the 50 percent he needed to clear to avoid a runoff, while the top Republican vote-getter, Karen Handel, won 20 percent.
“They were clear going into this election, they said their goal was to get over 50 percent. They came up short,” Spicer said during the daily press briefing when asked about the race. “I think this was a big loss for them. The bottom line is they went all-in on it. They said that they — their goal was to get over 50 percent. They came up short.”
Asked later about his assessment of the race and whether Republicans had to put in too much effort to compete in what is historically a solid Republican district, Spicer doubled down on his depiction of Democrats as the race’s losers, noting that they spent more than $8.3 million on the race.
“They ran to win last night and they lost,” he said. “Anything short of describing that as a loss is sort of inconceivable to me in the sense that’s literally what they said their goal was to do.”
Spicer was also asked if Ossoff’s relative success in the race shows that Republicans need to pay attention to demographic changes in the South. The press secretary, who formerly ran communications for the Republican National Committee, replied that the GOP is in great shape.
“I think you know that based on my former position, we talked about changing demographics throughout the country and made significant headway in doing that. In large part, that’s why we won,” he said.
“I think we did pretty well in November,” he added. “And we’ve continued to pick up seats around the country at different levels. So I feel very confident about the state of the party.”
Spicer said he was not yet sure whether Trump would campaign for Handel in Georgia.
“If needed I think the President is going to make sure he does everything he can to maintain majorities and further the party. But we’ll see if we’re needed,” he said.