President Donald Trump has attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi yet again, this time questioning the Democrat’s leadership chops and moving away from his usual compliments on her skills as an accomplished legislator and formidable rival.
The shift arrives as the 2020 Democratic primary is heating up, leaving some observers to speculate that Trump is simply shifting into campaign mode by taking on a Democratic adversary who has long been radioactive in the eyes of conservative voters, The Hill reported.
Democrats have struggled, at times, to unite their diverse new majority, and others maintain Trump’s strategy is designed to deepen those divisions heading into the 2020 elections.
“It allows the president to emphasize that, I think, there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to principles that are governing Democrats,” said Mattie Duppler, a Republican strategist.
The President shifted his opinion prior to the upcoming investigation report from special counsel Robert Mueller in regards to Moscow’s presidential election interference in 2016. Trump was suspected that he had attempted to hamper the probe.
Trump has dismissed the allegation for his alleged wrongdoings throughout the years-long investigation. However, the intensity and frequency of the denials has only reinforced Democrats’ suspicions that he has something to hide — and is using the attacks on Pelosi as a way to shift attention from the investigators’ findings.
“The President is interested in changing the subject from the imminent release of the Mueller report,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Tuesday in an email.
Whatever the reason, the attacks mark a notable shift in Trump’s messaging strategy. Over much of his White House tenure, Trump has largely — and curiously — refrained from launching personal attacks against Pelosi, a popular conservative target, reserving his more vitriolic broadsides for her Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
Following the Democrats’ midterm victory, Trump went out of his way to praise Pelosi, saying the pair had a “great relationship” and commending her appeals for bipartisan cooperation on big-ticket legislation like drug pricing and infrastructure.
“I give her a great deal of credit for what she’s done and what she’s accomplished,” he said at the time.
Despite branding many of his opponents with derisive nicknames, the President’s alternative title for Pelosi is simply “Nancy,” he told reporters in January amid a prolonged partial government shutdown. A short time after that remark, Trump acceded to Pelosi’s request to reschedule the State of the Union address until after the government had reopened.
Allies of both camps have said Trump’s hands-off approach has been, at least in part, rooted in the President’s genuine admiration for the Speaker and the power she bears. Pelosi’s opposition to impeaching Trump, while angering some liberals, has also encouraged the President.
“I think when Democrats won the House and Pelosi took the gavel, there was a belief by the president that she would be open-minded towards working across the aisle and getting some things done with him,” said a source close to the White House who requested anonymity to speak candidly.