© 2023 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Trump Base Supports National Guard Deployments To Border


All right. So President Trump has now signed an order to deploy National Guard troops to the southern border of the U.S. to protect against illegal entry. Earlier this week, the president took tough action against China on trade. And all of this is music to the ears of many of the president's most loyal supporters. Chris Buskirk knows that very well. He's a conservative talk show host based in Phoenix, though he joins us this morning from our studios in Washington, D.C. Hey, Chris, welcome back.

CHRIS BUSKIRK: Thanks, David. How are you?

GREENE: I'm good. How are you doing?

BUSKIRK: Doing very well.

GREENE: So what are you hearing from your listeners this week about what the president's been doing?

BUSKIRK: Well, I'll tell you what, you know, I look back - you know, the context is sort of two weeks old in a certain sense, right? We go back and look at the omnibus spending bill, and the president's supporters were, to say the very least I think, nonplussed. The big question people were asking is, you know, why didn't the president expend some political capital to get his priorities, his agenda, passed through Congress in a big piece of legislation, get those things funded? There was no money for the border wall, that sort of thing, things that were really, you know, the part and parcel of his core agenda. And now, we fast-forward a week and a half or two weeks later, and the president is taking action at the border and with China on trade. That really goes back to those things that really resonated with his core political supporters, with voters, and people are very pleased.

GREENE: How vulnerable a political moment was it for the president when he didn't get the border wall money that he was talking about? I mean, were many of his supporters on your air actually criticizing the president and saying, I mean, they were really, really unhappy?

BUSKIRK: Yeah. People were very unhappy. You know, I will say this - the president got - I won't say he got a pass, but he got the benefit of the doubt in one sense, which is to say that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan took the brunt of the blame. People said, you know, there goes Congress again, that sort of thing, feckless congressional leadership, Republican leadership in Congress. And yet, there was still a part that said, well, hold on a second. This - he signed the bill. He said he was - you know, he threatened to veto it, but he signed it and so he takes some of the blame. And yeah, no, there was definitely some consternation coming from Trump supporters after he signed that bill a couple weeks ago.

GREENE: Which makes you wonder if, you know, the president is aware of that and part of his messaging when he's doing some of these things this week is making sure that he's shoring up his base again.

BUSKIRK: I think that's right. I mean, I think - I think that part of it is there's political motive, and there's political opportunity here. But I think also this goes back to things that he really does believe. These are things that - these are themes and these are policies that he's talked about really from day one. You go back to 2015, these are the things that have been the foundation of his political popularity and of his agenda.

GREENE: Chris, when we talk about the - sending National Guard troops to the border, I mean, border crossings, illegal crossings, it looks like are actually way down. Our colleague, John Burnett, who covers immigration, has been talking about fewer people being apprehended than at any time since 1971. When President George W. Bush and President Obama sent National Guard troops there, it seemed like there were many more people crossing. Where's the urgency? Like, what are the president's supporters who are demanding action, what are they afraid of?

BUSKIRK: Well, I - there's a number of things, I mean, but the big one is to just simply to get control of the border. You know, we see illegal drugs coming across the border. We see MS-13 coming across the border. And then we just see this massive wave, though it's reduced, it seems like, over the past year but still a massive wave of people coming across the border, crossing illegally.

GREENE: Although much less massive or maybe not even massive, I mean, if the numbers are that far down.

BUSKIRK: Still - it's still large. There's a report that Border Patrol put out late yesterday that says that in March that the attempted illegal crossings surged in March versus January and February of this year. And so I think there's a sense in which people say, OK, you know, there's no wall, but nonetheless, we need to make sure that we have border security and that we know who's crossing, what goods are crossing and just make sure that the laws are being followed.

GREENE: Let me ask you about the tariffs on China. Some political analysts suggest that this could backfire politically on the president. There are a lot of rural farm states that might be hurt by this, and that could be a real problem for not just the Republican Party in a midterm election year but for the president and his re-election hopes. Are you worried about that?

BUSKIRK: Not really. I think the China - the China so-called trade war or the tariffs, I don't think it actually is a trade war. I think that what this really is is an extended negotiation. This is the United States and China trying to readjust the terms on which they're going to trade together. Nobody wants - nobody wants some sort of ongoing one-upmanship with regards to tariffs. And we're trying to get to a fairer trade, and people in the heartland get that.

GREENE: Chris Buskirk is a conservative talk show host in Phoenix, Ariz. He's also publisher of the website American Greatness and a frequent guest on our show. Chris, good to talk to you.

BUSKIRK: My pleasure. Thanks, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.