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Political Pundits Talk Trump Tweets, Midterm Elections and the ‘Trust’ Pillar

By Kristin Bull

National politics took center stage in Michigan on Wednesday, May 31 as three political pundits sounded off on the Mackinac Policy Conference pillar of restoring trust in critical institutions.

Former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a regular commentator on MSNBC and CNBC, moderated a chat between Patti Solis Doyle, a campaign strategist and CNN political commentator, and former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. In between making predictions for the midterm and 2020 elections, the three took the opportunity to express their opinions on the polarizing tweets that have become a pillar of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“He (Trump) sets the tone and it’s beyond exhausting,” said Doyle, who is also president of Solis Strategies.

The people suffer, Doyle said, because the media spends time covering what the president of the United States is expressing on Twitter rather than the trade wars, steel tariffs or issues that impact their everyday lives.

“I think journalism has changed in many respects; it’s become opinion journalism,” said Watts, founder and chairman of J.C. Watts Companies. “We are on a slippery slope.”

Watts, who admitted he did not vote for Trump or Clinton in 2016, predicted Trump will be re-elected in 2020. “He is a junkyard dog,” Watts said. “It will be extremely tough to beat him.”

Key takeaways:

  • On the midterm elections: Watts predicted Democrats would win the midterm election.. For Democrats, localized elections focused on issues that voters feel passionate about – immigration, health care, guns – are the key, Doyle said.
  • On trust in the media: “Politicians do not like the media at all. It’s by nature a very adversarial relationship,” Doyle said. “(Trump) has taken it to a new level.”
  • On civility in politics: The country is in danger of allowing “dysfunctional” to be a new normal, Watts said.
  • On beating Trump in 2020: The Democrats, Doyle said, do not have a clear leader. When asked to offer two names as potentials for the Democratic nomination in 2020, she suggested former Vice President Joe Biden and a yet-to-be-determined woman candidate.
  • On gun control legislation: Watts said the gun debate has to be viewed in layers – there’s no simple solution. “You can’t just look at it in terms of mental health or in terms of taking guns away. It’s deeper than that,” he said.
  • On Obama’s legacy: Doyle said universal health care was the best thing President Obama accomplished while in office. “Thirteen million people have health care that didn’t have it before,” she said.
  • On North Korea: Doyle acknowledged getting a seat at the table with North Korea and a potential for denuclearization is a key accomplishment of President Trump.

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio as part of a collaborative partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber for the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference.