State Rep. Phyllis Henderson stayed up past 3 a.m. Wednesday to watch Donald Trump’s victory speech. The Greenville Republican was encouraged by Trump’s calls for unity after the divisive presidential campaign.
“Now, the governing part is going to be the hard part,” said Henderson, who supported the bombastic New York billionaire businessman and reality-TV star but “wasn’t a huge fan.”
Even with fellow Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, President-elect Trump, a political novice, is not guaranteed success.
Trump now must stay on task, rally Republicans around common causes and exercise humility in establishing relationships with congressional leaders, S.C. Republicans advised Wednesday.
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“We now have a country to run,” longtime Trump critic U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, wrote Wednesday in a statement pledging his support.
State GOP leaders say Trump can start his presidency off on the right foot by rallying his fellow Republicans around issues they can agree on, steps that might mend fractures within the GOP that his presidential campaign helped expose.
Republicans wholeheartedly agree ObamaCare should be reformed or replaced. They also want immigrationaddressed.
They also want a conservative justice to replace the Supreme Court vacancy left earlier this year by the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
Passing early economic policies showing his intent to cut taxes and regulations on businesses also could prove popular, said Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard, a sometimes Republican pollster.
“The way the game is played now, you’ve got to have some early wins to show the kind of president you’re going to be down the line,” Woodard said.
But just as important, some leaders say, will be avoiding political pitfalls, something Trump struggled to do during the campaign.
A too-drastic stance on immigration, such as mass deportation, could become a political albatross. And a promise to re-negotiate America’s trade deals with other countries could go south if Trump tries to bully foreign leaders, said state Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster.
“You’ve got to walk a fine line between not letting these countries abuse certain industries ... but, at the same time, not igniting a trade war,” Gregory said.
Some S.C. GOP leaders suggested Trump rethink the abrasive campaign style that captivated so many angry voters.
“Humility in one’s approach can be an amazing healer, and it can do powerful things in bringing people together,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston.
State Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, suggested Trump start meeting immediately with congressional leaders from both parties to build positive relationships that he will need to pass divisive legislation.
“It dulls the sword,” Courson said. “You’re not going to change someone’s principles on a policy issue, but it makes it possible, maybe, to reach an accord.”
Trump can start by offering some of his former opponents, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, a chance to get behind him, Woodard said.
“He’s got to bind up the wounds in his own party and make sure they’re with him,” said Clemson’s Woodard.