Republican voters cut Youngkin some slack as he walks tightrope on Trump.
Youngkin, a Republican strategist who has been outspoken in his distaste for Donald Trump, found himself walking a tight rope when the GOP frontrunner became president-elect this week. Speaking to Politico’s Mike Allen at an event hosted by POLITICO and Google in Washington on Thursday, Youngkin said that he doesn’t believe Republicans will reject President Trump if they do not approve of him or his policies. He won, Youngkin said. I think you have to give him a chance. I think he will surround himself with fairly competent people and we’ll see what happens. Youngkin’s comments were notably softer than those that came from his boss, Evan McMullin, the independent candidate for president who ran as a staunch anti-Trump conservative.
We’re not just going to give up on the country because he won, McMullin said at POLITICO’s event.
Youngkin’s unwillingness to denounce the president-elect outright is likely rooted in his belief that Republicans can shape Trump policy through their ability to deliver him legislation like Obamacare reform and tax cuts. I think Congress will take a very proactive role, Youngkin said. I think they will try to work with him, even if he doesn’t always listen.
McMullin’s not so sure about that. People who are supporting Trump now are hoping to ride this wave into some kind of policy change or accomplishment that they can then claim as a win for their agenda, McMullin said. But that’s not how this works.
McMullin has not endorsed Trump since his historic victory, and he says he isn’t ready to support him yet. The Republican Party doesn’t belong to Donald Trump, who until January 20th will be an angry private citizen seeking praise from whomever will give it to him, McMullin said. It belongs to the people who constitute it. We’re still here.
We’ve done our part, McMullin added, but now it’s up to the Republicans to hold Trump accountable or let him steamroll them without consequence once he moves into the Oval Office.
Youngkin is not worried about President Trump growing bored of an unorthodox Congress that is slow to move on his agenda. I don’t think we’re going to be able to get anything through the Senate and he’s going to grow weary, Youngkin predicted. Those guys don’t like it when you bully them around either, so they will come back around again, just in different ways that may take longer for him to appreciate.
I think we’ll get done 90 percent of what he wants to do and the other 10 is what we actually will do for America, Youngkin said. It’s not about Trump; it’s about us. I don’t think Congress has much choice but to make this work, because if they don’t, he will tweet them out and find somebody else.
The president-elect, Youngkin says, will be unable to ignore Congress if it stands with its principles. Trump is not a low information guy who watches television all day and reads nothing, Youngkin told Allen .