President Donald Trump still has the support of several local Republican politicians and leaders despite the government shutdown ending with him receiving no money for his border wall, one of his top campaign promises.
The outcome of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history was another blow to Trump after Democrats gained a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. Trump faced fierce opposition from Democrats throughout the 35-day shutdown over federal funding he wanted for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
On Jan. 25, he backed away from his demand for funding of the wall and signed a bill to reopen the government. He was rebuked for his decision by some supporters, including conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who suggested on Twitter that Trump is “the biggest wimp” to serve as president.
Yet several Republican politicians and leaders in Will County have nothing but high praise for Trump, whose approval ratings declined from 42 percent when the shutdown began to 39 percent as of Monday, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Edward Ronkowski, Will County Republican Central Committee attorney, said Trump has been the president of his lifetime and he could beat former president Ronald Reagan’s accomplishments.
“He’s the best president I’ve seen with that much backbone since Reagan looked Gorbachev in the eye and said, ‘Tear down this wall!’” Ronkowski said.
Will County Young Republicans President Cornel Darden and Will County board member Steve Balich said they still support Trump after the outcome of the government shutdown and last year’s midterm elections.
“He might go down as one of the best presidents in history,” Darden said.
Balich argued Trump is not a weak president. He said when Trump tries to “stand up for people,” he has to stand up to not only Democrats but some Republicans who apparently despise him.
“And shame on them,” Balich said.
The Republican National Committee’s governing body voted Jan. 25 to declare the party’s “undivided support” for Trump and his “effective presidency.”
Darden and Ronkowski blamed the outcome of the shutdown on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“She’s not willing to negotiate on anything. Pelosi is the problem on the deal,” Ronkowski said.
Darden argued Pelosi and the Democrats in the House were the ones who were keeping the government shutdown, not Trump.
Democrats have refused Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build part of a steel wall along the U.S.-Mexico border but they passed legislation the day they took control of the House that offered $1.3 billion for border security, including physical barriers and technology along the southern border.
Senate Democrats have approved similar funding year after year.
Ronkowski argued the economy has grown under Trump and the imbalance of trade deals has improved. Darden similarly argued the economy has been booming under Trump.
The economy expanded at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter last year, the highest in four years. Almost all independent economists expect slower growth this year as the effect of the Trump administration's tax cuts fade, trade tensions and slower global growth hold back exports, and higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow to buy cars and homes.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.