On Thursday, the stepbrotherly feud between Washington’s two most powerful septuagenarians, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, intensified. In a press conference, reporters asked Trump whether or not he thinks McConnell should consider stepping down. “I’ll tell you what,” Trump said. “If he doesn’t get repeal and replace done and if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure—if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question.”
According to Politico, Trump is throwing McConnell under the bus so that he can distance himself from the mess of health care repeal and the fact that his administration has no legislative victories:
Increasingly, these people say, the president is prepared to cast himself as an outsider — and Congress as an “insider” Washington institution. He has reminded advisers his poll numbers are higher than Congress’ and that he ran against Washington — and wants bills to sign — and will blast his own party if he doesn’t get them. Trump believes that his supporters will largely blame Congress instead of him, two people who have spoken to him said.
But Trump shouldn’t be so confident that his base will stick with him as his failures pile up. While only 20 percent of people approve of Congress, Trump’s ratings are historically dismal. Gallup has him at 36 percent approval; Quinnipiac at 33 percent. A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll shows that Trump’s base has actually diminished: Not only has his approval among registered voters dropped, but those who approve strongly of Trump (in other words, his most dedicated supporters) is at a new low of 18 percent. As Morning Consult co-founder Kyle Dropp told Politico, “Unabated by the turbulence of the last six months, there remains a core base of ardent Trump supporters. However, that base has unquestionably declined since the president took office.”
Trump is doing all he can to shift the blame to McConnell. The problem is that there’s more than enough blame to go around.