Trump Returns to His Conservative Base
The populist president is back, with strong immigration demands, tax cuts, and an interview with Sean Hannity
President Donald Trump is coming back to his base after weeks of hoping for signs of friendship from Democrats and moderate Republicans.
Trump pushed his courtship of the Democrats to new heights in mid-September, when he met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the Oval Office. Trump reportedly agreed to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
In return for such amnesty, Trump would get next to nothing, it was reported. No funding for the border wall and no annual reduction in the number of legal immigrants.
The deal, which did not come to fruition, was similar to Trump's agreement with Pelosi and Schumer on the debt ceiling in early September. The temporary increase in federal borrowing sailed through the Congress.
But on the issues of health care and tax reform, Trump is apparently seeing no signs of compromise from the Democrats. Moderate Republicans in the Senate, such as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), have also signaled they will question the GOP's own tax-reform proposal.
The intransigence of Democrats and the stubbornness of some Republican senators has Trump apparently running back toward his base, his most reliable supporters. On Wednesday, Trump flew into Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he spoke to an audience of truck drivers.
Trump pitched the Republican tax-reform plan to them, telling them that middle-class families and small businesses, including trucking companies, will benefit from the plan. It was all music to the ears of Trump fans.
"The president loves his supporters — his base," said Jeffrey Lord, a conservative writer at Breitbart and The American Spectator, in an email to LifeZette. "He was here in Harrisburg just last night. I was present, and after he left, I spoke to a lot of his supporters. They love him and are very enthused — more than ever. He is right to do this."
But it's what Trump did to the Democrats on immigration that really caused gasping in the Beltway. Only a month after meeting with Schumer and Pelosi in the Oval Office to discuss Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Trump issued a dramatic statement of principles on immigration that would have to be considered in any deal on amnesty for illegal immigrants brought to the nation as children.
The amnesty policy, a legislative version of DACA, a now-revoked presidential order, is something Democrats desperately want for the roughly 690,000 illegal immigrants in the Obama-era program. Many Republicans would like to get the issue off the table, as sympathy for DACA recipients is high. The amnesty would also not extend to unlawful immigrants who crossed the border illegally as adults.
Trump made clear in his statement that he will ask Congress, and Democrats, for funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; more border agents and prosecutors; and a decrease in legal immigration.
The media called Trump's principles "hard-line" demands. But the statement of principles was generally praised by Trump supporters and critics of illegal immigration.
Even though nothing Trump says on Twitter is binding, it shows his mind. Initially, after John Kelly arrived in late July as Trump's new chief of staff, Trump's tweets seemed more tame.
In the past few days, though, Trump has lashed out at the media and Democrats, and promoted conservative policies, in a tone he hasn't used in a while.
"Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal, & that's about it," Trump tweeted on Sunday, mocking the Tennessee Republican and getting in a shot at the Iran nuclear deal at the same time. "We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!"
On Tuesday, Trump whacked the Democrats on illegal immigration.
"The problem with agreeing to a policy on immigration is that the Democrats don't want secure borders,they don't care about safety for U.S.A.," Trump tweeted.
Trump attacked NBC News on Wednesday for biased reporting. He then appeared on Fox News' Sean Hannity program later that day. It was red meat for conservatives and the Republican base, who generally dislike the mainstream media.
Thus, reports of Trump's abandoning his base appear to be premature. Trump also appears to be ready to use his base to lobby the politicians, applying pressure from outside of the Beltway.
"[Trump] wasn't elected by the D.C. Establishment," says Lord. "He was elected by people like the truckers here in the audience last night. So he is doing the smart thing, as coined in that old expression: 'Dance with the one who brung ya to the dance!'"