Trump tries to flip the script on Democrats over incivility
While Republicans across the country try to keep the focus of their midterm election campaigns on tax cuts and the surging economy, President Donald Trump is seizing on his own theme: liberal hostility to his policies and, over the past few days, to his staff.
The president’s tweets about a call by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) for protests of Trump officials and a restaurant that booted his press secretary over the weekend followed a playbook drafted by Trump-allied operatives to portray his detractors as out of step with most Americans and interested only in tearing down the president — regardless of the ultimate cost.
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The goal is to whip up Trump’s loyal base, and also to animate Republican voters who may have soured on Trump or weren’t thrilled with him to begin with.
“I know the people in Democratic leadership don’t want to admit it, but they can’t hide from the reality that their base agrees with Maxine Waters,” said Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist and former Trump aide. “Their base wants to impeach Donald J. Trump. That’s what is energizing the left, and most Americans find it extreme.”
Trump’s reliance on demonizing his political opponents and casting them as friendly to criminal gangs — most recently with a White House event at which parents of people killed by undocumented immigrants were invited to recount their grief in lurid detail on national television — reflects thinking among his outside political advisers that the Republican tax cuts aren’t enough to get voters to the polls in November.
One Trump adviser described the move as the president’s “putting a mirror in front of the Democratic Party to show the American people who they really are.”
“It’s this idea that Democrats are the extreme ones,” this adviser told POLITICO.
Trump on Monday cautioned Waters to “be careful what you wish for,” and attacked her intelligence after she urged his critics to confront members of his Cabinet in public places like malls or restaurants.
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party,” the president wrote on Twitter. “She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”
At a Monday-night rally in South Carolina, he added: “This has become the party of Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi. That’s what it is.”
Trump’s broadside came only hours after he chided the 26-seat Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, for ejecting White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this weekend over disagreements with Trump’s politics, a story those around Trump were hoping to advance for maximum effect following recent run-ins between liberals and other members of his Cabinet.
The White House last week notified the Secret Service of a threat after the actor Peter Fonda suggested Trump’s preteen son should be torn from First Lady Melania Trump’s arms and caged with pedophiles. “… see if mother will stand up against the giant a–hole she is married to,” Fonda wrote, before issuing an apology over what Trump supporters blasted as the personification of the left’s hypocrisy.
The president, who campaigned on promises to throw Hillary Clinton in jail, has long played the victim — first, during his 2016 campaign, of political correctness, and more recently of political opposition.