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Dug-in Trump to Dems: ‘Only a wall will work’ as shutdown enters 25th day

President contends polls shifting toward him, but one shows he didn’t change any minds with address

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive at the Capitol to attend a Senate Republican policy luncheon last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive at the Capitol to attend a Senate Republican policy luncheon last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A day after appearing to downplay the stature of his proposed southern border wall, President Donald Trump sent a message to congressional Democratic leaders: “Only a wall will work” as a partial government shutdown over his demands enters its 25th day.

Trump sent mixed messages about his proposed border wall during a Monday speech to an agriculture conference in New Orleans. After first saying he would not “back down” on his wall demands, he appeared to downplay the proposal among his full collection of 2016 campaign promises.

“They’re only doing this because of the 2020 election. Because I said I’ll build the wall and I’m going to build the wall — and it’s only one of many things that I promised,” he told the American Farm Bureau Federation centennial conference in remarks that were less about agriculture and mostly about immigration and the shutdown stalemate.

Back on his preferred social media platform the next morning, the president was back to his hardline immigration messages.

[Frustrated by ‘my generals,’ Trump turns to ‘my actings’]

The president again claimed a “big new Caravan is heading up to our Southern Border from Honduras” before adding this message for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York: “a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a Wall will work. Only a Wall, or Steel Barrier, will keep our Country safe!”

Democrats say they would support any shutdown-ending deal that includes border security tools like surveillance drones, measures to beef up narcotics-detection capabilities at ports of entry and additional judges to process asylum and other cases related to migrants. Vice President Mike Pence made an offer to Schumer around Christmas that included a fund for just those kinds of things — only to have Trump mock them within days on Twitter as just “fun” things to have rather than a real solution.

On Tuesday, Trump also urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer — whom he referred to as “Nancy and Chuck” — to “Stop playing political games and end the Shutdown!” Democrats are accusing him of the same thing, with Pelosi last week wondering aloud if the president really wants funding for his wall or just a loud, prolonged fight over funding to fire up his base heading into the 2020 campaign season.

The president also tried to put a positive face on numerous polls that show a majority of Americans blame him and congressional Republicans for the partial shutdown. He claimed in another tweet that “Polls are now showing that people are beginning to understand the Humanitarian Crisis and Crime at the Border.

“Numbers are going up fast, over 50%. Democrats will soon be known as the Party of Crime,” he wrote even though one poll showed Trump changed the opinion of only 2 percent of respondents with his prime time address on the subject last Tuesday night.

In yet another post, Trump singled out Pelosi: “Why is Nancy Pelosi getting paid when people who are working are not?” On Friday, 800,000 federal workers did not get paychecks for the first time since the shutdown started, but members of Congress are getting paid.

[Trump invites moderate Dems to WH for shutdown meeting — but some decline]

And the president seemed confused by media coverage painting his decision to buy fast food for the NCAA FBS football champion Clemson Tigers on Monday night as odd and the scene of hamburgers, pizza and french fries stacked on silver serving trays as yet another oddity of his presidency.

Trump and a spokeswoman said the move was necessary because about half of the permanent White House staff that handles food for large events are furloughed under the shutdown.

“Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders etc.,” he wrote Tuesday morning. “Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!”

The president, who independent fact-checkers have concluded has uttered thousands of false or misleading statements, said as he arrived back at the White House Monday night he had personally bought one-third fewer burgers than he did the next morning.

“We ordered American fast food, paid for by me. Lots of hamburgers, lots of pizza,” Trump said before meeting with the Tigers. “we have 300 hamburgers, many many french fries — all of our favorite foods.”

Journalist Brian Karem tweeted from the event that he overheard one Tiger quip, “Our nutrionist [sic] must be having a fit”.

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