BOSTON (CBS) – Most members of Congress have gone home for the holidays, but the lights are on at the White House where the president continues to push for a shutdown deal that includes border wall funding.
President Trump has gotten a lot of mileage out of talking tough – it’s a major reason why he’s president to begin with. But his tough talk and bravado about the shutdown in that now-infamous December 11 meeting with top Democrats is looking more and more like a major miscalculation.
“I will take the mantle,” he told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as they discussed the looming partial government shutdown and Mr. Trump’s demand for billions to build a wall along the Mexican border. “I will be the one to shut it down, I’m not gonna blame you for it.”
How big a political blunder was this?
A mere 17 days later, a chastened president is running away from his shutdown embrace. “I’d rather not be doing shutdowns,” he says.
His chief of staff admits they’ve backed off their once non-negotiable demand for $5 billion to build the wall. “We sat down with Mr. Schumer and gave him a number below five,” Mick Mulvaney said today.
And the blame game the president swore off two-and-a-half weeks ago is now in full swing.
“Nancy Pelosi is only looking to protect her speakership and not protect our borders and that’s why she’s unwilling to negotiate with us and unwilling to make any type of a deal and unwilling to help do what is necessary,” claims White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
The pain inflicted by the partial shutdown, and the public’s reaction to it.
The latest national polling shows a majority are holding either the president or his party responsible for the mess, with only a third blaming Democrats.
“I was hoping the Republicans were hearing what I was hearing back home from my constituents during the Christmas holiday, which is you guys gotta get back to Washington and reopen the government,” says Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Worcester).
The fallout is so bad, the president is skipping the annual New Year’s Eve bash at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach to avoid bad political optics. “I just didn’t want to go down and be there when other people are hurting,” he says.
Yet another sign of political distress in the White House – the euphemisms they’re now using for the wall, the “big beautiful wall” as Mr. Trump used to refer to it.
Just yesterday he said “the only ones that don’t want the wall are the Democrats,” but the new Reuters poll shows only 35% of those surveyed want to see wall money included in this spending bill, and a mere 25 percent back shutting down the government over it.