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