Trump’s new weapon? The bully pulpit

Trump’s new weapon? The bully pulpit
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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE has successfully sold himself as a businessman, an entertainer and a president. Now he’s ready to market his 2017 agenda.

The president-elect is signaling he’ll use Twitter, large rallies and a sharp tongue — the same weapons that won him the election — to advance his presidency.


Trump already has millions of social media followers and an ability to dominate the media.  

Starting on Jan. 20, he will be in control of the most powerful force in politics: the presidential bully pulpit.

With a Republican-controlled House and Senate, the president-elect has an enormous opportunity to pass a slew of legislation that would could both shape Trump's legacy and torpedo at least some of what President Obama accomplished during his eight years in office.

Some Democrats believe that Trump will fail as commander in chief in spectacular fashion, which would of course help them in the 2018 and 2020 elections. But many Democrats don't grasp the potential power of Trump's White House messaging operation and what they are up against.

Republicans, for their part, are salivating at what could come next.

Many think Trump will be able to steam roll his agenda through Congress given GOP control of both chambers and the insecurity of Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 in states won by Trump.

These members include Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGiuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri McCaskill shares new July 4 family tradition: Watching Capitol riot video Joe Manchin's secret MORE (Mo.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySupreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Republicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin MORE (Ind.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Schumer: Democrats 'on track' to pass bipartisan deal, .5T budget Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE (Mont.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJoe Manchin's secret Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests MORE (N.D.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Manchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Schumer: Democrats 'on track' to pass bipartisan deal, .5T budget MORE (W.Va.). Trump won Missouri, Indiana and Montana by about 20 percentage points each. He captured North Dakota by more than 36 points and West Virginia by a margin of 42 points.

The real estate mogul, despite never having run for office, eviscerated his political rivals by portraying them as weak and beholden to Washington's “corrupt” ways.

He gave his 2016 challengers nicknames, such as “low energy” Jeb Bush, “lying” Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzUp next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet 228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade MORE and “crooked” Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE.

Lawmakers, most notably Democratic leaders in Congress who get in Trump's way, could get their own nicknames.

If other red-state Democrats buck his nominees and/or his agenda, don't be surprised to see Trump visit their states to drive home his points. The president-elect loves rallies, and it's a good bet that he will be traveling outside the Beltway a lot.

There are already signs that Democrats could have trouble in holding a united front against Trump’s agenda.

Manchin, for example, was the first Democratic senator to back Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE (R-Ala.), Trump's nominee for attorney general.

It’s not just Democrats who have to worry.

Trump showed he isn't shy in going after members of his own party throughout the 2016 presidential cycle. And that probably won't change in 2017 and 2018.

The conservative-leaning House Freedom Caucus and outside right-wing groups are wary of Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure proposal and want the 45th president to focus on reducing the nation's record debt levels. The Freedom Caucus was instrumental in pushing former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger Freedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi MORE (R-Ohio) out the door, but picking a fight with Trump is another thing entirely. Most Republicans in the House don't worry about their November election — they worry about their primaries. And crossing Trump could risk a challenge from the right in the 2018 cycle.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer MORE (R-Wis.) and Trump feuded in 2016, but in the name of party unity and policy, they have put aside their differences. And in a related development, Ryan's approval rating just hit an all-time high earlier this month.

After the election, Ryan said it's time for the Republican Party to “go big” and “bold.” Trump wouldn't have it any other way, though there are inherent risks with an aggressive strategy without a supermajority in the Senate.

Republicans who publicly ripped Trump are now getting in line, so muscling big-ticket items through the upper chamber using budget reconciliation shouldn't be that challenging. Those bills, such as ObamaCare repeal, would only need 51 Senate votes to pass. But replacing ObamaCare, building a wall along the southern border and clearing a Supreme Court nominee will necessitate 60 votes.

That’s where Trump's bully pulpit will come in, calling out Democrats from both red and purple states that he won on Election Day.

While Trump may not be up to speed on the nuances of the legislative process, those mechanics will be handled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Manchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet MORE (R-Ky.) and Ryan.

Still, the fate of pending bills isn't decided by tactics. It comes down to marketing and political muscle, which play to Trump's strengths.

Trump will surely have a slew of critics of anything he wants to do. They will throw everything they have to kill his agenda.

Trump's likely response: “This bill will help make America great again. It should be passed as soon as possible.”

Democrats will need to step up their messaging game to thwart Trump's agenda. Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Wisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE (D-N.Y.), who will be minority leader next year, had pledged to work with Trump on areas of common ground. He has also vowed to battle Trump when warranted, most notably on attempts to eradicate Obama's legacy laws.

Since the election, Schumer has called for Democrats to craft “a bold economic platform,” a clear acknowledgement that Clinton's muddled message was no match for Trump's “Make American Great Again.”