Trump lashes out at fellow Republicans

Days before he is expected to launch another White House run, former United States president Donald Trump is at war with his own party, angrily denouncing potential rivals and airing old grievances.

The former one-term president has slapped the man seen as his main threat, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, with the label "DeSanctimonious" and tried out a nickname with a racist tone for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin as he looks to ward off any challengers for his party's 2024 nomination.

For Trump, who has long viewed himself as a wrecking ball within the party, it's the same playbook he ran in his successful 2016 campaign and his failed 2020 re-election bid.

It comes as a growing chorus of Republicans blame him for their weaker-than-expected performance in midterm congressional elections.

Republican luminaries such as former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former congressman Paul Ryan and conservative outlets such as Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal have criticised Trump for injecting himself into the midterms, arguing his involvement spurred Democratic turnout and alienated independent voters.

Trump blasted back, accusing the media without evidence of favouring DeSantis in a conspiracy to deny him the nomination.

Trump has a history of marginalising his opponents with derisive nicknames and rallying his supporters against them as he did in 2016 with rivals such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

"He frames people up and allows his supporters to knock them down," said a Florida Republican strategist, who asked not to be identified to protect his relationship with Trump.

People around Trump are trying to persuade him to soften his image, fearing his scorched-earth rhetoric is turning off voters, a senior adviser told Reuters.

They are also trying to get Trump to focus less on past grievances.

"The 2016 campaign was about solving problems and offering ideas," the adviser said.

"We are trying to convince him to talk about the future. We'll see what happens."

With the party splintering, some of Trump's allies are trying to publicly demonstrate their loyalty.

Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives, endorsed him on Friday, though he has not yet launched a run and the first party primary is over a year away.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said on Twitter successful Republican governors should stay in place and not try to run for president.

Neither DeSantis, who was convincingly re-elected to a second term on Tuesday, nor Youngkin, a first-term governor, have announced a presidential bid although DeSantis is reportedly considering one.

In a Friday post on his Truth Social network, Trump called Youngkin "Young Kin" and said "sounds Chinese, doesn't it?".

Youngkin is not Chinese.

The day earlier, Trump posted a long harangue about DeSantis that again called him Ron "DeSanctimonious" and said he owed his political fortunes to Trump.

Two Florida Republicans close to DeSantis predicted the governor would be wary of responding directly, keeping his focus on the state's recovery from Hurricane Ian and policy issues.