Democrats take U-turn as Trump backs points

Im­mi­gra­tion plan sup­ported for decade

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Democrats who sev­eral years ago voted to end the gov­ern­ment’s green­card give­aways and to in­sti­tute a point sys­tem for se­lect­ing some new im­mi­grants are quickly back­ing away now that Pres­i­dent Trump has em­braced the idea.

Once a source of consensus for a le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that all sides agree is bro­ken, the idea of Amer­i­can of­fi­cials be­com­ing more se­lec­tive in ad­mit­tances has be­come con­tentious. Democrats say they fear how Mr. Trump would em­ploy stricter se­lec­tion cri­te­ria.

One Demo­cratic leader called it “an­ti­im­mi­grant,” and an­other called it a be­trayal of the prin­ci­ples of the Statue of Lib­erty.

The crux of the bill, spon­sored by Repub­li­can Sens. Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas and David Per­due of Ge­or­gia and em­braced last week at the White House by Mr. Trump, would trim the broad range of fam­ily re­la­tion­ships that qual­ify for im­mi­gra­tion and in­ject a gov­ern­ment screen for needed skills and English

to pro­mote real news” about how Mr. Trump is mak­ing Amer­ica great again. Like the pres­i­dent’s fre­quent tweet­ing, the cam­paign said it will use “news of the week” on so­cial me­dia to “talk to Amer­i­cans di­rectly.”

Mr. Trump said Mon­day on Twit­ter, “Hard to be­lieve that with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES & WAPO, the Trump base is get­ting stronger!”

Some me­dia an­a­lysts said the Trump cam­paign’s “News of the Week” ef­fort ap­pears aimed at hold­ing on to Mr. Trump’s base rather than ex­pand­ing his sup­port.

“You’re just re­in­forc­ing those peo­ple who sup­port you, who al­ready have bought the idea that the me­dia are to­tally against him,” said Richard Benedetto, an ad­junct jour­nal­ism pro­fes­sor at Amer­i­can Univer­sity and former White House cor­re­spon­dent. “They will cling to that. In the me­dia at­mos­phere we’re liv­ing in to­day, he’s go­ing to ap­pease the peo­ple who sup­port him, and he’s not go­ing to win any con­verts.”

Af­ter months of bat­tling the me­dia over Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tions and feud­ing with his own party in Congress over Oba­macare, sur­veys sug­gest the de­vel­op­ments are start­ing to take a toll on Mr. Trump’s pop­u­lar­ity. His job ap­proval rat­ing has sunk be­low 40 per­cent; a Quin­nip­iac poll last week pegged it at 33 per­cent.

A sur­vey re­leased Fri­day by the Repub­li­can pub­lic af­fairs firm Fire­house Strate­gies found that Mr. Trump’s sup­port is slip­ping in four key swing states: Florida, Ohio, Wis­con­sin and Penn­syl­va­nia, all of which he won in Novem­ber.

The sur­vey found that Mr. Trump’s base of sup­port has shrunk from 35.3 per­cent of vot­ers who had a “strongly fa­vor­able” view of him in April to 28.6 per­cent last week. It found that much of that ero­sion is among Repub­li­cans. Strongly fa­vor­able views among Repub­li­can vot­ers dropped from 54.1 per­cent to 44.9 per­cent, while un­fa­vor­able views in­creased from 20.5 per­cent to 27.9 per­cent.

“Our data shows Trump los­ing sup­port in­side the Repub­li­can Party and a no­tice­able drop in his per­ceived hon­esty,” the firm said in a memo. “Just 6 months in of­fice, Trump is get­ting into dan­ger­ously low ter­ri­tory in key swing states.”

The pres­i­dent said Mon­day that such polling is “phony” and af­fected by neg­a­tive cov­er­age of him in the main­stream me­dia. He pointed to the heavy turnout at rau­cous cam­paign-style ral­lies he has held re­cently in swing states.

“The Trump base is far big­ger & stronger than ever be­fore (de­spite some phony Fake News polling),” Mr. Trump said. “Look at ral­lies in Penn, Iowa, Ohio and West Vir­ginia.”

Mr. Trump said the way he sees it, the ad­ver­sity and his achieve­ments over the first seven months have so­lid­i­fied his base.

“The fact is the Fake News Rus­sian col­lu­sion story, record Stock Mar­ket, bor­der se­cu­rity, mil­i­tary strength, jobs … Supreme Court pick, eco­nomic en­thu­si­asm, dereg­u­la­tion & so much more have driven the Trump base even closer to­gether,” he said. “Will never change!”

But the in­abil­ity of con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare, af­ter promis­ing to do just that for seven years, and the un­cer­tain prospects for tax re­form ap­pear to be hurt­ing Mr. Trump and Repub­li­can law­mak­ers with their base.

The Fire­house/Op­ti­mus sur­vey said while Repub­li­cans still over­whelm­ingly be­lieve Mr. Trump has been suc­cess­ful (43.9 per­cent) or that it is too soon to tell (35.8 per­cent), the per­cent­age of re­spon­dents who say he has been un­suc­cess­ful has in­creased from 13.1 per­cent to 20.4 per­cent from April to early Au­gust.

In the sur­vey, 7 per­cent of re­spon­dents said they will not vote for Repub­li­can in­cum­bents next year if Oba­macare is not re­pealed, and 9 per­cent said they won’t vote to re-elect Repub­li­cans if they fail to ap­prove tax re­form.

“Fail­ure to de­liver ma­jor leg­isla­tive vic­to­ries is rais­ing the prospects of an elec­toral set­back for Repub­li­cans next year,” the group said.

Against that devel­op­ment and faced with the bar­rage of neg­a­tive me­dia cov­er­age, Mr. Benedetto said, Mr. Trump’s cam­paign is tak­ing a rare step of de­liv­er­ing its own news in a broad­cast­style for­mat.

“The kind of op­po­si­tion that Trump is fac­ing from the me­dia is more op­po­si­tion party than it is Fourth Es­tate,” he said. “They def­i­nitely feel that there’s a need to get around it. They can’t, but they’re giv­ing it a try.”


CRACK­ING DOWN: At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions noted Chicago law­less­ness and warned, “It’s this sim­ple: Com­ply with the law, or forgo tax­payer dol­lars.”


Ronna Rom­ney McDaniel, Michi­gan Repub­li­can Party chair, said Kayleigh McE­nany, who was named Mon­day as spokes­woman for the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, “will be in­valu­able to the RNC as we con­tinue to sup­port Pres­i­dent Trump.”

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