“This is an engaging president. So when he says something, it’s not always the final position he’s going to take,” says Trump ally Sen. David Perdue.https://t.co/bL8gkCZUUA
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 2, 2018
Some of the congressional Republicans who last year might have feared a disparaging mention in the president’s Twitter feed are readily pushing back when his populist instincts run counter to long-held Republican stands.
Trump’s announcement Thursday of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum was greeted by cheers from Democrats and wariness or outright criticism from Republicans. Likewise, his attempt to mediate on guns by embracing comprehensive background checks for buyers and raising the age limit for purchasing some rifles.
Earlier this year, his four main immigration proposals — including a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants — got only 39 votes in the Senate, with 14 Republicans voting against it…
That influence will be tested over the next eight months as states hold primaries for congressional elections in November that will decide control of the House and Senate. His approval rating with Republican voters remains strong — 80 percent or higher in most recent polls — even as his overall job approval is stuck below 40 percent.
Trump won the White House with an odds-defying, rule-breaking campaign. There are signs he and the GOP may not be able to replicate that…
Trump’s indecisiveness and shifting views has contributed to his diminished luster within the Republican Party by making GOP lawmakers wary of taking potentially risky votes for fear that the president will pull away political cover.
“On immigration and the gun stuff, sometimes you don’t know where he’s going to end up. You don’t know if it’ll be the Tuesday Trump or the Thursday Trump,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, an occasional critic of the president who is retiring after 2018. “People are concerned about that.”…
“Trump’s influence on Capitol Hill was significant last year, but in an election year the calculation for many members is different,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based Republican strategist. “His endorsement is still valuable in most places, particularly in Republican primaries. There is a limit to what he can sell on Capitol Hill and he may find that limit on several difficult issues this year.”
Alex Conant, a former spokesman for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and a veteran campaign aide, said Trump succeeds when he shares goals of Republicans, such as on tax cuts and confirming judges, and fails when they differ.
“Trump and congressional Republicans have a very transactional relationship,” Conant said in an email. “Trump’s low poll numbers significantly weaken his influence on the Hill. A lot of congressional Republicans seeking tough re-elections are seeking to highlight policy disagreements with Trump.”…
As the 2018 midterms progress, we may need to add yet another category: Rooting for Injuries.
It is difficult to overstate how much cable news coverage (and chyrons in particular) influences Trump — his moods, his impressions of other officials, his policy views, his political instincts https://t.co/wL8Wt3vLRT
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) March 3, 2018