Trump and Pelosi spark a new power re­la­tion­ship in Wash­ing­ton

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - News - BY LISA MAS­CARO, JONATHAN LEMIRE AND CATHER­INE LUCEY

They haven’t spo­ken in days, not since Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump called to con­grat­u­late Nancy Pelosi on Democrats’ elec­tion night win.

But they don’t re­ally need to. Trump and Pelosi go way back, from the time she first showed up at Trump Tower fundrais­ing for the Democrats long be­fore he would be­come pres­i­dent or she the House speaker. Two big-name heirs to big-city hon­chos – Trump and Pelosi each had fathers who were po­lit­i­cal power play­ers in their home towns – they’ve rubbed el­bows on the Man­hat­tan so­cial scene for years.

And de­spite daily barbs in Wash­ing­ton, he’s al­ways “Mr. Pres­i­dent” to her, and she’s one promi- nent politi­cian he has not la­beled with a de­ri­sive nickname.

Not quite friends, nor en­e­mies, theirs is now per­haps the most im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship in Wash­ing­ton. If any­thing is to come of the new era of di­vided gov­ern­ment, with a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent and Demo­cratic con­trol of the House, it will hap­pen in the deal-mak­ing space be­tween two of the coun­try’s most po­lar­iz­ing politi­cians.

The day af­ter their elec­tion night phone call, Trump and Pelosi did speak again, in­di­rectly, across Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue.

“I re­ally re­spected what Nancy said last night about bi­par­ti­san­ship and get­ting to­gether and unit­ing,” Trump said in a press con­fer­ence at the White House. “That’s what we should be do­ing.”

Pressed af­ter his un­usual pub­lic lob­by­ing for Pelosi to be­come House speaker, Trump in­sisted he was sin­cere.

“A lot of peo­ple thought I was be­ing sar­cas­tic or I was kid­ding. I wasn’t. I think she de­serves it,” he said. “I also be­lieve that Nancy Pelosi and I could work to­gether and get a lot of things done.”

Pelosi sent word back a few min­utes later from her own press con­fer­ence at the Capi­tol, which she de­layed for nearly an hour as the pres­i­dent con­duct- ed his.

“Last night, I had a con­ver­sa­tion with Pres­i­dent Trump about how we could work to­gether,” Pelosi said, not­ing that “build­ing in­fra­struc­ture” was one of the items they dis­cussed.

“He talked about it dur­ing his cam­paign and re­ally didn’t come through with it in his first two years in of­fice,” she nudged. “I hope that we can do that be­cause we want to cre­ate jobs from sea to shin­ing sea.”

De­spite all the cam­paign trail trash talk, both Trump and Pelosi have in­cen­tive to make some deals.

The pres­i­dent could use a do­mes­tic pol­icy win head­ing into his own re­elec­tion in 2020, along­side his reg­u­lar rail­ing against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, the “witch hunt” of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion or other is­sues that emerge from his tweets.

Democrats, too, need to show Amer­i­cans they can do more than re­sist the Trump White House. It’s no sur­prise that two of the top Demo­cratic pri­or­i­ties in the new Con­gress, in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment and low­er­ing health care costs, dove­tail with prom­ises Trump made to vot­ers, but has not yet ful­filled.

“I do think there’s op­por­tu­ni­ties to pass leg­is­la­tion,” said for­mer White House leg­isla­tive di­rec­tor Marc Short.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE AP file

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­la­tion­ship with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is now per­haps the most im­por­tant one in Wash­ing­ton.

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