As a minority leader with a Republican in the White House, however, Schumer will have a very different task — and there’s concern among some Democrats that he might not be cut out for it. “Chuck will go to the ramparts on an issue when it’s polling at 60 percent, but as soon as it gets hairy, he’s gone,” says one senior Democratic Senate aide. “Chuck wants issues to have no negatives, but it’s the Trump era. He’s looking at polls showing 60 percent for the Carrier deal” — in which Trump persuaded the company to keep a furnace plant in the U.S. in exchange for $7 million in tax breaks — “and thinking to himself,Maybe we should support that.”
Indeed, in the days immediately after Trump’s victory, Schumer sought common ground with the president-elect. Other Senate Democrats soon followed suit. Much of this was, presumably, typical morning-after posturing, but Reid was nonetheless alarmed. Three days after the election, he released a statement branding Trump “a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.”
“What I was trying to say,” Reid told me, “is, ‘Be careful, because this is not all fun and games. The stuff he has said has been hateful and disruptive and crude and not helpful to anybody, and so be careful what you agree with him about.’ ” Adam Jentleson, a top Reid adviser, puts it more bluntly: “He was standing athwart the normalization of Trump, yelling ‘Stop!’ He wanted to show Democrats that this is how you should be approaching things.”
Nearly two months after the election, Senate Democrats are by all accounts unprepared and without a coherent strategy when it comes to opposing Trump’s agenda.It is in the Senate where, theoretically, Democrats have the best shot at countering almost total Republican dominance of Washington.To be effective they will need to be tactical and tough, and it’s likely they will be missing Harry Reid a lot.
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