While some Republicans fear President Donald Trump's focus on tariffs against China could have a bad effect on candidates in this year's midterm elections, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Saturday the tariffs and showdown should come as no surprise.
"This is classic President Trump, right?" Priebus, also a former Republican National Committee chairman, told Fox News' "Fox and Friends Saturday." "I mean, you put the shots over the bow; you set up the negotiation table."
Priebus said Trump used the same strategy when he was dealing with North Korea, and "people freaked out because the president was being extremely aggressive...and lo and behold, we have an agreement."
The same thing happened with Afghanistan, when Trump spoke of pulling out, and with Syria just this past week, he pointed out..
"I think if you look at the pattern, you will see that the president in most cases is negotiating up front," said Priebus, "sending shots over the bow, then setting himself up for a solution. I think that's what you have here."
Priebus also commented on the current controversies surrounding EPA Director Scott Pruitt, telling the program that he doesn't think Trump should fire him.
"What he has got to do is somehow show the American public that he has got the EPA buckled down, you know, come to the table and show how things are going to be different, which I think he is starting to do," said Priebus. "He has done, you know, a huge chunk of the changes that have taken place that are making the economy hum again.
Further, Pruitt's changes are, in large part, from Trump's orders, said Priebus.
He also rejected a question from one of the show's hosts that claimed many people think Pruitt's actions, including renting a room from a Washington lobbyist, make him part of the capital's "swamp" Trump has railed against.
"I think people make mistakes and mistakes don't put people in the swamp," said Priebus. "I think what have you is deficits that are out of control, parties that can't seem to come together and get things done...I think it's a tough issue for people to talk about. But, I think if you look at the preponderance of the evidence, I think Scott Pruitt is doing a great job."
Priebus also talked about Republicans who want to use the tax cuts as an election strategy, noting that Democrats likely will push the idea that the cuts mainly benefitted the extremely wealthy while leaving people in the middle and bottom income levels behind.
" If you look at what happened in Wisconsin last week, and what it means for the future, you know, people should look at that election," he said. "That was a base election. There was no President Trump on the ballot. There was no Scott Walker. And there is huge Democrat turnout."
Republicans, he said, will need to get ahead of people like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on tax cuts and show they are working.
"Secondly, the party and I think they are doing this, but I would just triple down on it, you have to invest very, very heavily and in absentee ballot early voter operations," said Priebus. "You have to put massive field organization on the ground. As much as can you possibly afford. Without question."
Republicans will have to get on college campuses again to "stop the bleeding...there shouldn't be, you know, any money left on the table," he added.
Also, the party should not hesitate to dump bad candidates and recruit better ones, said Priebus.
"One thing the Democrats have done is they have fielded pretty good candidates," he said. "I think the Republicans have, too. I think they have done a great job. If there is any bleeding anywhere, they need to be replaced."
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