Something about Nancy Pelosi just gets under Donald Trump’s skin.
On Wednesday, for the third time in barely six months, a meeting between the president, the speaker and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blew up in spectacular fashion.
And in each case, Trump handed Pelosi a huge gift, a priceless moment that helped unify the Democratic Caucus behind her at a crucial time.
“She’s smarter than him, and she’s tougher than him, and I think that bothers him,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a Pelosi ally. “It’s hard to get inside that head of his and figure out what drives him, other than an oversized ego and an undersized sense of ethics.”
Trump doesn’t have a condescending nickname for the speaker as he does for other Democrats. He even appears to have a grudging respect for Pelosi, the first woman to serve as House speaker. He treats her as a peer who commands her chamber with a firm hand, and he knows she can deliver on votes, and that she is willing to call any bluff at any time.
The latest episode of “Trump vs. Pelosi” featured Trump storming out of a planned White House meeting with Pelosi, Schumer and other top Democrats over a proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package.
It was just the type of explosion that allows Democrats to portray the president as unreliable, tempestuous and impossible to negotiate with. And Trump’s refusal to cut any deals with Democrats while they engage in oversight — something every president has to live with — backs up what Democrats have said since the 2016 campaign: Trump is only out for Trump, not the American public.
“Guess what? He behaves like a child. This is what we have in the White House now,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who served under Pelosi in the House. “I’m used to it. I’m not expecting a grown-up any longer. I’m not expecting him to grow into the role.”