“Barring some cataclysm,” there’s little chance of Donald Trump leaving office before his four-year term is up, says Niall Stanage, White House correspondent for The Hill.
The Belfast native addressed a packed crowd of nearly 200 last week at The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. The public event occurred during the university’s spring break, making the turnout even more impressive. Stanage has been in America for 17 years, covering four presidents.
Numerous missteps from the nascent politician have left Trump with the lowest approval ratings of any modern president. However, nothing so far has risen to the level of impeachment, an unlikely event given the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives, Stanage said. Removal from office is even less likely because it requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate, a body that is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
Americans in the audience (maybe just Marilynn and me) wanted more insight into Trump’s first 100 days and his relationship with the media. Unfortunately, that sort of dirt was lacking for the most part, partly because of The Hill’s decidedly non-partisan stance.
However, Stanage did air some cringeworthy clips of Trump, including the famous interview where he describes the circumstances under which he told Chinese President Xi Jinping about the bombing of Syria (which he mistakenly called Iraq in the clip) while the president was enjoying “the most beautiful chocolate cake you’ve ever seen.” (See Stephen Colbert’s take on the clip here.)
He also described tense situations during press conferences with Press Secretary Sean Spicer. “It’s politically useful sometimes to be annoyed, but Sean Spicer gets personally annoyed.”
Reason for the win
Although Hillary Clinton won the popular contest for president by nearly three million votes, the crucial difference boiled down to 77,000 votes in three pivotal states, according to Stanage.
Stanage explained the concept of the so-called Blue Wall—Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania—and how the Electoral College turned on those three states. “He won by the rules of the Electoral College,” Stanage said. “The whole thing came down to states in the Blue Wall.”
Trump won Wisconsin by 22,000 votes, a state that last went Republican in 1984; Michigan by 11,000 votes and Pennsylvania by 44,000. Between 1993 and 2017, one-third of US manufacturing jobs disappeared, including many in those three states. Trump’s election success can be pinned on “the loss of jobs (in these areas), and they’re being ignored by Washington politicians,” Stanage said.
Stanage cautioned those who hope Trump is removed for some reason that Vice President Mike Pence is a more orthodox conservative on such issues as gay and women’s rights. Trump’s volatility continues to ignite liberals, which should make the 2020 presidential race very interesting, he noted.