At one time, conservative pundit Ann Coulter was among President Donald Trump’s strongest supporters. In fact, she got on board with the Trump Train very early, boldly predicting — in the face of guffaws and ridicule from other commentators — that Trump was the most likely candidate to capture the Republican nomination. The acid-tongued commentator even penned a book, In Trump We Trust, boosting his campaign.
Coulter was not enthusiastic about the Trump candidacy because she was enthralled with anything personal about him, but because she considered him to be the best candidate available to advance the issues that she cared most about — keeping America out of endless wars, for example. Not surprisingly, she expressed deep disappointment when Trump opted to bomb Syria over unproven allegations that Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons on civilians in the on-going Syrian civil war.
But immigration was Trump’s signature issue — promising to build a wall along the southern border, and making Mexico “pay for it.” Coulter’s 2015 book, Adios America!, made it quite clear that she believed America should stop immigration, because the alternative was “the Left’s plan to turn our country into a Third World Hellhole.”
When Trump appeared to waver on insisting on money for the wall in the last budget battle, Coulter chided him publicly, and Trump announced he was prepared to have a government shutdown rather than sign a budget bill that made no provision for funding for the border wall. An obviously irritated Trump protested then that conservative critics — particularly Coulter — were not responsible for his digging in on the issue.
Now, Trump and Coulter are publicly feuding over immigration policy, with Coulter arguing during a speech in Florida to some 600 people at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches (just a scant few miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort club) that Trump is “not trying; it’s not an accident” that additional border wall construction has still not begun. For his part, Trump has characteristically struck back verbally, calling Coulter a “wacky nut job” in one of his (in)famous tweets last weekend. He insisted that, despite Coulter’s complaints, he is working toward keeping his most-remembered campaign promise.
“I don’t know why he doesn’t just ignore me,” Coulter said Monday night, responding to Trump’s calling her out by name. “He doesn’t mind ignoring the rest of his base.”
Trump boasted on Twitter in a Saturday tweet that major sections of the wall “are being built,” adding the next day that the border wall “is being built and is well under construction.” Trump has even claimed that he had “already built large new sections and fully renovated others.”
That prompted Coulter to mock Trump’s assertion, saying to The Daily Mail, “The President’s tweet says he’s already building the Wall. Could he give me the precise latitude and longitude of its location? Also, how many miles long is it?”
“I want to throw a party there and need the exact coordinates,” she added.
In fact, Coulter insinuated that Trump is not sincere in his desire to build the wall, telling her audience on Monday night that he is a “shallow, narcissistic, lying conman.”
It appears that much of the border construction that Trump has boasted of is indeed essentially replacement of some existing barriers and the reinforcing of others.
Coulter has long been noted for her caustic wit, which can be directed at fellow conservatives who stray off the reservation as well as at those on the Left. She told the Forum Club, “Trump has no intention of fulfilling his campaign promises. This is not an anomaly. He’s not trying. It’s not an accident.”
She even suggested a 2020 campaign slogan for Trump’s expected reelection bid: “The Wall! Oh, never mind.”
When Trump recently said it was Coulter who was “off the reservation,” not him, he added, “I haven’t spoken to her, I don’t follow her, I don’t talk to her.”
To that, Coulter retorted that she supported him because of his campaign promises, not that she was giving him some blind loyalty personally. “He seems to think ‘the reservation’ is HIM, not his campaign promises.”
Of course, in Trump’s defense, he has not had a very cooperative Congress on the immigration issue, even when the Republicans held a majority of the House of Representatives. Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was particularly unhelpful in advancing much of Trump’s agenda that he had promised to his supporters in 2016.
Still, Coulter’s point is well made — it wasn’t Trump’s “charming personality” that got him elected, but his positions that won over working-class voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Rhetoric is not going to cut it with many of Trump’s supporters — they want action. They don’t want a repeat of the Nixon days, when, as liberal Republican Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania put it, “Conservatives get the rhetoric, liberals get the action.”
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