WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to give President Donald Trump a chance before his fellow New Yorker took the oath of office. But after 40 days, Schumer says he’s about through with the blustery commander in chief.
“It’s changed,” Schumer told The Huffington Post Tuesday shortly before Trump addressed a joint session of Congress.
“Trump, instead of doing where his campaign was, which was against both establishments, Democratic and Republican, so there might be some areas of common ground, has moved so far to the right that I don’t see any place we can work with him,” Schumer said. “He’s not even talking about infrastructure, he’s not talking about trade.”
When Schumer initially said he’d look for places to work with Trump, the then-president-elect had certainly alarmed most Democrats ― but some still hoped Trump would moderate on some issues, or at least make good on pledges that Democrats like Schumer liked, such as investing in infrastructure.
But since then, Trump has stood by his hard-line stances. And millions of Americans across the country have come out in droves to protest.
Schumer said it reminded him not so much of the tea party surge in 2010, or the Democratic wave of 2006, but the anti-war movement when Eugene McCarthy knocked President Lyndon Baines Johnson from office.
“I cut my eyeteeth in the Eugene McCarthy campaign of 1968,” Schumer said. “A ragtag group of grassroots activists, students and other assorted misfits toppled the most powerful man in the world, Lyndon Baines Johnson.”
“He was not as dishonorable as Trump, but he certainly was more powerful at that point in time. We beat him,” Schumer said. “I have not seen an outpouring that strong since that time.”
Schumer thinks Trump is likely to keep on inspiring Democrats, and pointed to recent local elections in Delaware and Connecticut as signs the party is surging.
“This bodes very well for 2018,” Schumer said. “If Trump continues to govern from the hard right, and be the same kind of person who doesn’t tell the truth, who makes it up as he goes along, and we stay united and strong, we could actually take back the Senate.”
Such an outcome would be remarkable. Democrats must defend 25 seats in 2018, including 10 in states Trump won, while Republicans only have nine incumbents facing re-election. Just two of them are in swing states.
Trump has certainly noticed Schumer, and has alternated between praising him and mocking him.
But Schumer insisted any attempts at manipulating him would fail.
“He thought by saying a few flattering things, he’s going to make me give up my values, and go work with him?” Schumer scoffed. “We’ll go by our values, and his values are so far away from ours that there’s not much ground for compromise. I’ve told him, all the flattery, all the name-calling, isn’t going to make a darn bit of difference. You’ve got to do the right thing. So far, he has not.”
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