CHUCK MALLOY: Why Republicans are going bananas over Trump

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It’s well-known that Pres. Trump’s approval ratings among Idaho Republicans are through the roof, but it appears he has an equally high rating nationwide.

I’ve heard reports that 90 percent of Republicans support Trump, which puts him in Ronald Reagan territory in terms of sustained popularity. That means a large number of Americans are paying no attention to those controversial tweets, sex scandals and special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation. And it doesn’t matter what the talking heads and late-night comics are saying on television.

Democrats, of course, have a much different view about this president. But to Republicans, Trump can do no wrong. With him virtually owning the Republican Party, forget any talk about impeachment. For all Republicans care, Trump could have weekly poker nights with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin — and Stormy Daniels serving drinks and potato chips.

“If his popularity is on the rise, impeachment doesn’t happen,” said former Sen. Larry Craig, who was part of the GOP’s unsuccessful effort to ride Bill Clinton out of office. “On the day the House filed articles of impeachment with the Senate, polls showed Bill Clinton as being with the Pope in terms of popularity. You knew at that point that nothing was going to happen. It was an exercise of politics.”

Janice McGeachin, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, supported Trump from the beginning and is backing him even more today.

“Trump is working to make America great again,” she says. “I’ve seen his support grow, and a lot of it has to do with him keeping his promises. He has worked to oppose Obamacare, lower taxes, increase border security and reduce regulations.”

And, from what she sees at his rallies, he connects well with the masses.

Russ Fulcher, the GOP nominee for the First District congressional seat, thinks that support for Trump is spreading to independents who like his brash style. “He has not cowered to the beck and call of the status quo. He has not played by the rules and he does not bow to the media or historical correctness. He has a revolutionary mindset that appeals to a lot of people. Plus, he has a tremendous ability to identify what people are thinking on issues, with immigration and trade being prime examples.”

Sen. Mike Crapo hasn’t always been a fan of Trump’s tactics; he temporarily pulled his support for Trump in the waning weeks of 2016, then quickly came back to the fold before election day. Crapo has a positive view of Trump today, especially from the standpoint of economic policy.

“For the last eight to 10 years, I have been fighting against bad ideas from the administration in my town hall meetings. Now, I’m able to talk more about the good ideas,” Crapo says.

“The economy has been growing at about 3.2 percent … it was 1.9 percent, and we were told by economists that a growth rate of about 2 percent would be the norm,” the senator said. “Instead of businesses fleeing the United States, more companies are now wanting to come back in because America has the most complete tax structure in the world. We now have more jobs available than people seeking jobs.”

The massive tax-cut bill and regulatory reform are hallmark accomplishments of Trump’s administration, according to Crapo. The policies also have cleared the way for Crapo, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, to reduce regulations on smaller banks and lending institutions.

“That means more capital to help small businesses, and that has helped Idaho,” Crapo says. “A significant amount of credit goes to President Trump. Yes, Congress had to pass the tax bill and other initiatives, but none of this would have happened without the president calling for the bills and signing them.”

Crapo won’t predict how all this plays out in the mid-term elections, “but when an economy is working, people tend to support what’s there and he needs a Congress that he can work with.”

And Crapo needs a Republican majority in the Senate for him to stay as a committee chair. It’s hard to see a leaderless Democratic Party taking control of Congress if the economy keeps humming along.

• • •

Chuck Malloy, a Silver Valley native and longtime Idaho journalist, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com.

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