President Trump’s triumphant Rose Garden ceremony announcing his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement sent a message loud and clear to his supporters: Promise kept.
But the move also served as a clarion call to angry Democrats, potentially complicating the political path for Republicans facing tough midterm challenges and, ultimately, Trump’s own reelection bid.
Trump, whose approval rating has hovered around 40 percent for most of his presidency, probably did not gain new converts with his decision, and Democrats now see an opportunity to further intensify the focus of their base in the 2018 midterm elections. They also foresee the climate-change decision as a key part of their broader argument to college-educated swing voters who have been among Trump’s weakest supporters.
“He’s unleashed a number of forces that I don’t think he understands that ultimately are going to work against him,” said Tad Devine, a longtime political strategist and former adviser to the presidential run of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “People are interpreting this not as my house is going to be flooded tomorrow, but our federal government is being run by people who don’t care about science.”
Trump’s gamble could pay off. If the pace of economic growth quickens and jobs return for his core supporters, he could point to the decision to exit the accord as proof of his leadership, his backers say.