NBC’s Steve Kornacki joined me this morning to expand on his MSNBC piece on the difficulty of accurately gauging the size of President Trump’s real support:
HH: I’m joined now by Steve Kornacki, chief political correspondent for NBC News where, and we want to talk about three things – last night’s speech by President Trump, today’s trip by President Trump, and the bigger issue behind all this, which is what’s going on with President Trump. Good morning, Steve, how are you?
SK: Good morning, Hugh, I’m doing well.
HH: Now you have a great piece, which I’ve gotten to read in preview. Has MSNBC posted this, yet, on the media?
SK: No, unfortunately, the speech last night has pushed the timetable back a little bit, but in a few hours, it will certainly be up on the website.
HH: Well we’ll weave it in here, a preview. People need to read this, because Steve raises a question which I’ve been grappling with, and he does it with much more data than I am used to using. But let’s first talk about last night’s speech, Steve Kornacki. How did you respond to it?
SK: I thought it was interesting, because obviously, yes, it’s a clash there between the themes, or some of the themes that Trump campaigned on versus the realities that he confronts as president and the realities, obviously, that we’ve seen a few presidents confront right now. My instant reaction was just trying to look at how this might affect his, how this might go over with the folks who elected him. You see, obviously, there’s a lot of popular frustration with how things have gone in Afghanistan over the last 16 years. The President talked about that last night, although I was looking through the polling numbers, and there was an interesting finding that jumped out at me. It was when you really start putting some options on the table for voters. Their frustration of the war doesn’t necessarily hold up in terms of calling for a pullout. If you give them an option of a more aggressive strategy, even if it means adding more troops versus pulling all the troops out, even if it potentially risks emboldening ISIS and the Taliban, they side with the idea of a more aggressive strategy, add some more troops. So that’s sort of the case Trump was trying to make last night. I think he might have a little bit more room to run with it politically right now, but obviously, like with anything else, and like with his predecessors, the ultimate question then will become results.