President Donald Trump’s plans to shut down the southern U.S. border and cut off aid to three Central American countries are “probably in competition for two of the worst ideas,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.
The California Democrat, speaking at a Politico Playbook event, quickly added to that list: “Let’s not forget our friend the wall.”
Pelosi was highly critical of Trump during the roughly 45-minute Playbook live interview, especially when it came to his immigration policy proposals.
Shutting down the border “is an applause line, not an idea,” she said.
“What the president forgets is the border is a two-way thing,” Pelosi added. “Much of the activity at the border is about commerce, it's about tourism. Some of it is about immigration, more now than it used to be.”
The speaker suggested there’s a lot of Republican opposition to the notion of shutting down the border.
“I think he’s going to have enough trouble in his own house on that,” she said. “Certainly the Republican Senators in the region have made their concerns known.”
Regarding Trump’s plan to cut off U.S. aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, Pelosi said that if his goal is to get people to stay in those countries, providing aid would actually be helpful to that cause.
“Stiff competition mind you, this is one of his worse ideas,” she said. “I don’t know who is advising him there — and advising is even a word — I don’t know who is poisoning his mind.”
Pelosi didn’t stop at immigration. She criticized Trump and his administration for the decision to argue in a federal court case that the entire 2010 health care law should be dismantled, saying, “Them’s fighting words.”
As to the health care plan Trump keeps saying Republicans are working on, Pelosi said mocked it as “his secret plan” since the president said they won’t pass it until after the 2020 election.
Pelosi also took swipes at proposals Trump isn’t even talking about now, like his 2018 proposal to provide a “pathetically meager” $200 billion federal investment in infrastructure.
“I believe that the president knows that now, that that wasn’t a good plan,” she said.
Pelosi called for a $1.5 trillion federal investment and said Democrats are ready to move on infrastructure when the White House is.
Asked what level of cooperation she expects from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Pelosi said, “I don’t know what, left to his own devices, what Mitch would do, but there’s no question the White House weighs in there.”
On the topic of the 2020 election, Pelosi declined to pick favorites among the vast field of Democratic candidates but said any of the people running or who are considering it “would be a better president” than Trump.
“I think we have a beautiful field of candidates,” she said.
‘Straight arm club’
After telling reporters Monday night that she didn’t think allegations of inappropriate touching against former Vice President Joe Biden would disqualify him from the 2020 presidential contest, Pelosi acknowledged Tuesday that he may need to change his behavior.
“He has to understand in the world that we’re in now people’s space is important to them, and what’s important is how you receive it, not necessarily how you intended it,” she said.
Pelosi described how she handles human contact by holding her arm out as if she were extending it for a handshake and saying, “I’m a member of the straight arm club.”
The speaker added she pretends she and the person interacting with her both have a cold.
While Biden’s hugging and other physical forms of affection are “just the way he is,” Pelosi said “that’s just not the way” he should behave in today’s environment.
“Join the straight arm club with me,” she urged him.
Pelosi reiterated her desire that Democrats sweep the 2020 elections, and said her plan is to have the House candidates “so fortified” over the next few months it will deter any challengers.
“I intend to have the House won by this November,” the speaker said.