President Trump’s acquittal by the Senate in his impeachment trial Wednesday capped a whirlwind few days of political fortune, from Democrats’ chaos in the Iowa caucuses to the president’s State of the Union address, that has some Democrats worried about his election-year momentum.
In the span of three days, Mr. Trump enjoyed record turnout for an incumbent president in the Republican Iowa caucuses while Democrats seemed unable to pick a winner or even count their votes. He gave a State of the Union address that focused on the needs of the middle class, while Democrats jeered and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was criticized for ripping up his speech.
And on Wednesday afternoon, his impeachment trial ended with an acquittal in the Republican-majority Senate. The vote had been a foregone conclusion, but it nevertheless finally put the inquiry behind the president as his reelection campaign swings into high gear.
“We couldn’t have scripted it any better,” said White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, referring to the timing of the Iowa caucus mess for Democrats. “It’s their problem. But America sees that.”
As those developments played out, Mr. Trump’s job-approval rating in the Gallup poll rose to its highest level ever, 49%. His approval among Republicans hit an impressive 94%.
“The president has his highest approval rating since he’s been in office,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Right now, this is a political loser for [Democrats]. They thought this [impeachment] was a great idea. And at least for the short term, it has been a colossal political mistake.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said at the end of the trial that Mr. Trump “successfully advanced the interests of the United States and remained focused on the issues that matter to Americans” during what she called the “corrupt” impeachment process.
“He spent his time achieving real victories for the people of this country, and the Democrats — once again — have nothing to show for their fraudulent schemes,” she said in a statement. “The president is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behavior by the Democrats in the past, and looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of the American people in 2020 and beyond.”
Some Democrats are sounding alarm bells as their presidential candidates prepare for the New Hampshire primary next week without even knowing the winner in Iowa.
“WAKE UP, folks,” tweeted former Obama White House adviser Van Jones. “The #IowaCaucus was a debacle, followed by a strong #SOTU speech laying out Trump’s strategy to win — which includes going for Black voters. This was a warning shot from the Trump campaign to liberals, and we need to take this VERY seriously in order to win.”
Longtime Democratic strategist James Carville criticized the state of the party and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
“We gotta decide what we want to be,” Mr. Carville said on MSNBC. “Do we want to be an ideological cult, or do we want to have a majoritarian instinct — to be a majority party?”
He, too, said Democrats need to “wake up, and make sure that we talk about things that are relevant to people.”
“We’re, like, talking about people voting from jail cells,” he said. “And not having a border.”
Republican strategist David Kochel said he’s not a Trump supporter, but “he is grinding the Dems into dust.”
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