Trump's base-pleasing border tweets foreshadow 2018 role

Illegal immigration, the...

Posted: Apr 4, 2018 12:23 PM
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 12:23 PM

Illegal immigration, the border wall, Democrats, "fake news" and even "Cheatin' Obama."

These are the base-rallying call signs President Donald Trump has deployed on Twitter in the last week, just as he is facing a rare onslaught of criticism from pockets of his right-wing base over a $1.3 trillion spending measure he signed that didn't include new border wall funding. The law included about $1.6 billion for border security.

The lengthiest of his recent Twitter rants came in the last three mornings, after he spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago venting with allies and fielding the concerns of conservatives who worry he hasn't done enough to mollify his political base's demands for action on illegal immigration.

Privately, sources close to the President and the White House say Trump is also increasingly turning to the 2018 midterm elections and has focused on how he can help deliver high turnout numbers among his supporters. Motivation his base is something the President and some of his allies believe will be key to keeping Congress in Republican hands and thus help avoid potential impeachment proceedings from a Democratic House.

Five sources close to the White House offered varying interpretations of whether there is a strategy behind the uptick in Trump's tweets. But all agreed the activity has served to energize -- or reassure -- his political base and provides a preview of how Trump plans to approach the upcoming elections.

"He's only going to rev this up. He's looking at targets that the base hates," one source close to the White House said. "The enthusiasm gap between 'the resistance' and 'the base' is now palpable."

Trump's weekend at Mar-a-Lago only served to solidify his ruefulness at the massive spending measure he signed a week earlier. There, Fox News personalities such as Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro amplified the criticism of the bill found in some conservative circles where frustration at the lack of funding for a border wall reached a fever pitch.

The loudest of those criticisms reached the President through TV screens, where the conservative firebrand Ann Coulter excoriated the President for failing to get border wall funding. One source said Trump was "rattled" by Coulter's criticism, while another said he was "aggravated."

Responding to criticism

In its wake, Trump has issued a series of social media invectives to signal his commitment to stemming illegal immigration and building the wall that became as prominent a staple of his campaign as the red "Make America Great Again" hats donned by his supporters.

"Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their jobs at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release," Trump tweeted on Sunday.

On Monday, he lamented the lack of "effective border laws" in the US, warned "our country is being stolen!" and accused Democrats of wanting "No Borders, hence drugs and crime!"

On Tuesday -- between tweets about "fake news" -- he offered still more on the topic: "The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our 'Weak Laws' Border, had better be stopped before it gets here."

But if Trump's aim is to mollify the criticism he is facing from the right, one top Trump ally in Congress predicted that won't be enough.

"Most Republican members are just getting beat up because of the omnibus vote," said the GOP lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak more candidly. "The danger is there was a day in time when a few tweets would reassure conservatives in Trump districts. The vote on the omnibus doesn't allow for a tweet to reassure them anymore."

Reached by email, Coulter offered a similar analysis: "As I have said, they don't call it 'The Great Tweet of China.' "

Hit a wall on the wall?

In the 11 days since he signed the spending bill that left Coulter and conservatives in Congress upset, Trump has continued to grumble about the lack of funding for the wall and privately blamed both members of his administration and Republican leaders in Congress for negotiating an unsatisfactory bill, three sources close to the President said.

"He understands that the building of the wall was a central component of the campaign and it's very difficult going into the '18 cycle not having built it," one source close to Trump said.

But a separate source familiar with the conversations said Trump has coupled his frustration with the lack of funding with private insistence that the wall is being built -- pointing to the replacement of existing fencing on the southern border -- and that it must simply be marketed better to the public.

Trump appeared to make an attempt at that last week when he tweeted photos of new fencing being installed on the border and wrote: "Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL!"

That messaging -- from a President who is now without a communications director other than himself -- is likely to increase as the midterms near. If not disappointed in the level of action on border security, Trump has worried that some of his supporters may be complacent.

"History says that when you win the presidency, that party doesn't do so well in the midterms because people get complacent. They get complacent," Trump told a crowd in Ohio last week. "We cannot be complacent."

The President's advisers inside and outside the White House have convinced him he can be the motivating factor, pointing him to figures that suggest he helped narrow the Republican deficit in a Pennsylvania congressional race by hitting the campaign trail days before the election last month. The Republican candidate still lost the race narrowly, despite the fact that Trump won the district by 20 points.

Base-pleasing tweets like he has issued in the last week are likely to play into that effort, sources close to Trump said, noting that the tweets are a tried-and-true playbook of his 2016 campaign.

But some allies still hope Trump will also use his Twitter account not just to pump up his base, but also to tout a growing economy and the tax cut bill that Republicans plan to run on as their 2018 platform.

"He's proven that he can drive the news cycle, but drive it for good," said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser. "Because if we talk about the economy and where it's going, we're not going to lose the House."

Of course, tweets aimed at the base will help too, Bennett said.

"What you gotta do is remind them why we're fighting together," he said. "It always works."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 147582

Reported Deaths: 3937
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24410780
Lake12911350
St. Joseph8651154
Elkhart8281130
Allen7756221
Hamilton5872113
Vanderburgh547750
Tippecanoe346414
Monroe316238
Hendricks3116130
Johnson2947127
Porter288948
Clark280857
Delaware277174
Vigo245534
Madison224587
Cass220120
LaPorte208853
Warrick185362
Floyd170865
Kosciusko169221
Howard155366
Bartholomew137557
Dubois133423
Marshall129826
Henry120728
Boone117748
Grant116839
Wayne114923
Hancock112844
Noble110033
Jackson106412
Morgan90840
Dearborn89528
Daviess82732
Gibson8229
Clinton80116
Shelby76929
Lawrence76732
LaGrange76114
Harrison72924
Putnam69415
Knox68610
DeKalb67411
Posey6695
Steuben5798
Miami5655
Montgomery55722
Fayette55615
White55615
Jasper5264
Greene50537
Scott50313
Decatur49339
Adams4555
Clay4266
Whitley4246
Ripley4138
Sullivan40612
Wells4045
Orange38124
Starke3787
Wabash3769
Spencer3656
Huntington3645
Franklin35925
Jennings35813
Washington3452
Randolph3318
Jefferson3275
Fulton3232
Pike31512
Carroll30513
Perry28214
Jay2756
Fountain2733
Tipton26123
Parke2152
Newton20511
Vermillion2031
Owen1991
Rush1984
Martin1930
Blackford1843
Crawford1401
Pulaski1401
Brown1283
Ohio1167
Benton1060
Union1010
Switzerland840
Warren721
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 181787

Reported Deaths: 5067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30590635
Cuyahoga19212671
Hamilton15890338
Montgomery9883184
Lucas8058370
Butler7856122
Summit6406260
Warren393360
Stark3605178
Mahoning3567283
Marion332149
Pickaway294646
Delaware275927
Lorain262389
Fairfield254156
Licking241065
Wood240181
Clark231654
Clermont225936
Trumbull2174134
Greene210840
Columbiana207887
Allen195873
Miami191056
Lake184757
Medina175542
Portage153067
Mercer143327
Ross130533
Wayne125968
Richland125724
Tuscarawas117822
Athens11452
Erie111453
Darke108850
Madison101314
Hancock97520
Auglaize92716
Lawrence88524
Putnam86127
Shelby85014
Geauga81950
Muskingum8174
Scioto7709
Belmont76827
Union7203
Ashtabula71348
Huron6909
Sandusky69022
Seneca57614
Preble57417
Ottawa55930
Holmes53710
Fulton4726
Henry44217
Jefferson4384
Defiance43713
Clinton42013
Jackson4197
Fayette4188
Crawford4088
Logan3923
Champaign3783
Highland3714
Ashland3705
Brown3583
Knox35215
Perry35011
Washington32423
Morrow3222
Williams3124
Hardin30913
Coshocton28612
Pike2780
Wyandot27813
Gallia27413
Guernsey2688
Van Wert2153
Meigs20512
Adams1936
Hocking1899
Carroll1887
Paulding1791
Monroe14118
Noble1120
Vinton853
Harrison763
Morgan690
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 46°
Angola
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 45°
Huntington
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 46°
Decatur
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 43°
Van Wert
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 43°
Cloudy Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events