04/15/2017

How Conservatives Could Benefit From Trump Admin Infighting [Watch]

W. James Antle III, The Washington Examiner

President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner may be ascendant, but don't count out the conservatives in the administration yet.

As the jockeying between the "West Wing Democrats" associated with Kushner and the populist nationalists highlighted by White House strategist Stephen Bannon grabs headlines, movement conservatives and other more conventional Republicans may be poised to benefit.

If personnel is policy, they represent a much bigger slice of Trump appointees than either the Kushner or Bannon camp. These mainstream Republicans also have more experience in politics and government than Trump's relatives and most of the people working to make "Trumpism" a governing philosophy.

"The idea that this is somehow going to become a Democrat administration is laughable," said a source close to the Trump camp.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had a breakout week and now rivals Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as a foreign-policy voice of the Trump administration. A onetime supporter of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for president, Haley has articulated the president's recent sharp turn against Russian leaders and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney has become a point man for negotiating with his former House Freedom Caucus colleagues on repealing and replacing Obamacare, which has regained its spot as a top administration priority.

Mulvaney was praised by fiscal conservatives after the "skinny budget" contained deep cuts to non-defense discretionary spending. Trump did not talk much about budgetary discipline on the campaign trail and his first budget proposal was not expected to cut so aggressively. Whether Mulvaney can convince the president to embrace entitlement reform may be the next test of his influence inside the administration.

Vice President Pence remains the top movement conservative in Trump's orbit and has taken on a leading role in reviving the stalled Obamacare talks among congressional Republicans.

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