By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – President Trump loves tough action, tough guys and tough talk. But does he run the risk of voter fatigue with all that tough love?

That question is prompted by a new book – “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration” – that claims Trump aides deflected a range of questionable presidential ideas for securing the border, including shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down, stocking a border wall trench with snakes or alligators, electrifying the wall and topping it with flesh-piercing spikes.

The president says it’s a pack of lies. “Never said it, never thought of it, and I actually put out something on social media today, I said I’m tough on the border, but I’m not that tough.”

That’s rare concession from a politician known for his relentless embrace of what he perceived as toughness.

U.S. President Donald Trump answers a question from the media during a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

He was doing it back in 2011 when he published a political manifesto entitled “Time to Get Tough.” He has a palpable affinity for “tough guy” authoritarians around the world. And his rhetoric in office is replete with the “t” word.

But is all the tough talk still working for him politically?

A Pew Research survey earlier this year found a solid majority think Mr. Trump’s tough-guy approach has changed American political debate for the worse. And while his use of a capitalized barnyard epithet in a tweet Wednesday denouncing the Democrats was far from the first time he’s used vulgarity to convey toughness, the poll suggests the public is tiring of it, with large majorities saying his statements make them “concerned, confused, embarrassed, exhausted and frightened.”

As usual there was a wide partisan gap in that poll, but nearly 60 percent of Republicans said they too were often concerned by the president’s rhetoric and 53 percent said they are at least sometimes embarrassed.

And unless the Democratic nominee turns out to be just as embarrassing, that could turn out to be a major Trump re-election weakness.

Jon Keller


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