On Wednesday, President Donald Trump told radio host Rush Limbaugh that he thinks it would be better politically to have a government shutdown fight over funding a border wall before the midterm elections in November, but said he doesn’t want to “disappoint” Republican allies who think that’s too much of a political risk.
Trump made a surprise phone call into The Rush Limbaugh Show for Limbaugh’s 30th anniversary on the air. During the interview, Limbaugh asked the president about his threats to shut down the government if Congress refuses to fund a border wall before the September 30 government deadline to fund the government and keep it open.
“It’s like pulling teeth, though, getting these guys to get it done is. You have no idea how tough I’ve been,” Trump said. “And I say, ‘Hey, if you have a shutdown, you have a shutdown.'”
“Now, the shutdown can also take place after the election,” Trump added. “I happen to think it’s a great political thing because people want border security.”
Earlier this week, an anonymous source told the Wall Street Journal that Trump had agreed with a plan presented to him by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to kick a fight on the border wall past the election to mitigate political risks taken before the midterms.
Limbaugh asked the president about his political consultants and those who agreed with the Ryan-McConnell advise.
“I’ve heard a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, don’t do it before the election, we’ll upset the applecart,'” Trump said. He indicated to Limbaugh he disagrees with that theory.
I happen to think it’s a good thing politically. I’m not doing it for politics. I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. So I’m not looking at politics. But I happen to think that border security would be a good thing before the election, but there are many people within our party that are good people that are like you that agree with you on everything you say. But they’d rather do it after. They don’t agree on doing it before, and I accept their opinion, but I happen to think it would be a good thing to do before. I actually think we’d get more and there’d be more pressure on the other side, because we’re doing it because the Democrats are not giving us the votes.
Limbaugh agreed and told Trump it would be “silly” to abandon the border security issue before the midterms. Trump responded by noting that there is more risk in shutting down the government before the elections.
“Well, if you do it before, there’s a lot more pressure to get a great solution. But it’s riskier,” Trump said. “If you do it afterwards, there’s less pressure; there’s less risk. I’m just not sure you’d make as good a deal. I will say a lot of people — good people — you know, would ask me in the nicest of ways, ‘Could we do it after the election?'”
“Yeah, and they’ve been good to me. I’ve had a lot of good support within the Republican Party, and you saw the poll numbers in the Republican Party. They like me so I have to keep them a little bit happy. But whether it’s before or after? But I actually think it’s a great campaign issue. I think it would be great before. But I don’t want to disappoint a lot of very good people that are working with me — and, Rush, I have to tell you, I’ve got some really good support within the Republican Party, too.”
Based on what the president said here, he has the right instincts on having a government shutdown fight. He understands that Republicans are stronger than Democrats on immigration and border security. He knows Republicans can win a debate over funding border security if they pressure the Democrats by making them choose between a funded border wall or a government shutdown. But the president’s advisers and members of GOP leadership don’t want to have that fight. They don’t want to take the principled stand because having this fight before the elections is riskier.
Conservatives need to reinforce the president’s instincts. Make it clear that we want to have the fight with the Democrats before the election, because that will mobilize conservative voters to go out and support the Republicans in the midterms. President Trump must show the American people that he’s unwilling to play Ryan and McConnell’s political games, that he wants to change the status quo, and that he’s willing to take risks to effect change.
If Trump doesn’t fight now, if he gives into the swamp, then what was the point of electing him?
Watch the full interview below:
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
Send tips and hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.