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What Trump Supporters Think Of The President's Week


President Trump's approval rating, according to Gallup, is 45 percent. That is the highest of his presidency. To put that in perspective, it is lower than average for the middle of a second year, though he is about as popular as his predecessor Barack Obama was at this point. This newest poll was done in early to mid-June, and it is, we should say, hard to tie polls to specific issues. The timing can be tricky. But we can say that many Americans have been outraged over the president's zero tolerance immigration policy that separated families crossing into the U.S. illegally. Even though the president ordered those separations to stop, there's no telling when kids already taken from their parents will be reunited with them. Chris Buskirk is a conservative radio talk show host, also publisher of the website American Greatness, and he spends a lot of time listening to supporters of the president and he joins us this morning from member station KJZZ in Phoenix. Chris, welcome back to the program.

CHRIS BUSKIRK: Well, thanks. Good morning.

GREENE: So I want to just start with - I understand you've talked to some Trump administration officials this week. Do you understand why the president reversed course here? After saying, you know, he couldn't end this policy of separating families, he then ended it?

BUSKIRK: Yeah. I think I do. I mean, it's tough always to speak for the president, but, here, I'll just tell you the way I understand it. And that is a couple things. I guess two big things. The first one is, is that the president saw something that as a policy was playing out in practice. It didn't quite seem and feel like the way it was supposed to work in theory. And so said - you know, basically, on a humanitarian basis - said look, this is something where we can do this better. I want to enforce our laws at the border. I want to enforce our immigration laws. And yet I see that in the practical impact of doing that that there are unintended consequences, and I want to take action. Congress seemed unwilling or unable to take swift action. We had Senator Schumer saying, you know, I don't want to take any legislative action on this. And I think the president said, there's an exigent circumstance here, and I need to act and instruct the executive branch to continue to enforce immigration laws but to do so in a way that we think that he thought was - and I think most people think is more consistent with, you know, sort of basic humanity.

GREENE: But, Chris, let me just ask you. I mean, he had said for so long that only Congress could do that. Looking back on that now, I mean, was he not telling the truth when he said there was nothing he could do? Because a lot of people see it that way.

BUSKIRK: You know, I don't think so. I mean, I think this was one of these situations that develops in real time, right? And as people look at it - and, you know, it probably changed his mind, quite honestly. Looked at and thought, well, this is a situation that is largely created by legislation that has passed Congress, and so it's something that where legislation needs to be passed in order to create effects. And as more information came to light, said, OK, there is a way to do this that is, he thought, consistent with the authority he has as president. But I thought it was also telling that when you looked at the executive order - and I don't have the exact wording. I wish I did. But basically, the name of the executive order is something like, the giving Congress time to act.

GREENE: So he's still putting the onus on Congress.

BUSKIRK: Exactly. He's saying...

GREENE: Well, can I just ask you? You and I always talked about that you saw conviction in this president, that you see a lot of his supporters seeing conviction. So I wonder, a flip like this. Were your listeners upset that the president changed his mind here?

BUSKIRK: No, I don't. No, they're not. I mean, that could change. But, you know, if the facts change, right? I mean, if he were, for instance, to backtrack and say, well, all of a sudden, now I'm in favor of amnesty. Or, now all of a sudden, I think we don't need to enforce immigration laws or enforce the border. That would be seen as a material change of policy or a backtracking on a core principle. The executive order, no, I don't think so. I think that's seen as really a practical matter of how a principle is enacted or enforced at the border. I think that not only is acceptable to the president's supporters, I think it's actually seen as salutary, saying, OK, we can be practical about this, as well.

GREENE: Chris, some of the images and what we've learned about these kids, I mean, they have just been horrible. I mean, we've heard sounds of kids crying out for their parents after being separated. This was a policy that that belongs to the president. I mean, zero tolerance, announced by his administration. As you listen to people on your show, you know, in terms of expressing that anger, do you sense blame? Blame directed at the president?

BUSKIRK: No. No, I don't. I think, actually, despite what I think are pretty brazen attempts just to whip up passion, I think people are looking at this and saying, look, we have to enforce immigration laws, and if we find out that the practical implementation of that causes some impacts that we think are bad - and a lot of people do. Most people do - then we can fix that, too, while still being consistent with the idea of enforcing the law. And I think that's an appropriate way to do this, is to fix things that we see are broken.

GREENE: Chris Buskirk publishes the conservative website American Greatness, and he joined us from Phoenix this morning. Chris, thanks a lot.

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