White House officials were urging President Trump to double down on the platform which got him elected into the states highest office, while he attempts to re-energize his staunchest allies.
Advisers have been urging Trump to refocus on immigration and other issues which resonate with the conservatives, evangelicals and working-class whites who motivated him to the Oval Office.
The president has also ramped up his media-bashing through Twitter, long a powerful tactic for Trump, and staged events hoping to marshal his foundation to his shield. On Monday, he employed the tactic to take swipes in Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., after he voiced support for a particular counsels probe of Trumps associates links to Russia.
Trumps advisers understand that a severe slide in support among his core voters could sabotage hopes to get a significant, early legislative achievement and would surely increase Republicans’ concerns regarding his re-election prospects.
The president battles already have prompted public speculation about his political future. The White House pushed back angrily Sunday against a New York Times report about Republicans preparing for 2020 presidential race that may not comprise Trump. The report described Vice President Mike Pence as putting preparation if Trump doesn’t run. Pence called the report “disgraceful.”
The chatter has been fueled by Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to shepherd health care laws through Congress, the drip-drip of revelations about his associates’ ties to Russia and the churn of turnover and turmoil at the White House. The president’s advisers have attempted to drown out the terrible news by focusing on his agenda.
“They are telling him just reevaluate the schedule,” Conway said of the president’s foundation in a recent interview on ABCs This Week. Do not worry about a Congress that is not supporting laws to get large ticket items done. And don’t worry about all of the distractions and diversions and discouragement that others, that are trying to throw logs into your path, are throwing your way.”
Immigration is expected to continue being a focal point for Trump in the coming months, including a push for its boundary wall. Officials also are weighing a more general role for White House policy advisor Stephen Miller, a favorite of Trump backers whose hardline immigration policies irritate a few congressional Republicans.
The appointment of White House chief of staff John Kelly also fits in to that effort. While Kelly was brought in primarily to deliver much-needed area to the West Wing, officials note that he, too, is seen favorably by some Trump loyalists because of his premature execution of this administration’s immigration policy as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly’s appointment was particularly welcomed by senior strategist Steve Bannon, who’s taken on the task of ensuring Trump doesn’t drift from the claims he made to his foundation during the campaign.
Alice Stewart, a conservative who worked for the presidential campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, said Trump is right to make overtures toward his coalition of faithful supporters, even if some of his motions are incomplete.
“I believe folks recognize half a loaf is far better than none,” Stewart said.
Mitch Harper, a former GOP state legislator and Republican activist at Indiana, said Trump will receive credit from conservatives even for partial measures simply because he is “articulating things that they have not heard anyone articulate in a long time.”
And what about the results? Harper said Trump supporters “are willing to wait.”
Indeed, even some of Trump’s advisers still marvel in the devotion of their president’s supporters. For now, conservatives are pinning the blame on Washington’s failure to get health care done not on Trump, however on the number of Republican senators who blocked legislation aimed at overhauling “Obamacare.”
“I believe on health care the president is seen as somebody who did whatever they could,” explained Matt Schlapp, who heads the American Conservative Union.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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