President Donald Trump built his political profile on the idea that he is a savage opponent, frequently lobbying intensely personal attacks at his foes. But when it comes to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, he has been uncharacteristically mild.
On Thursday, he was even warm, twice kissing in her on the cheek during and after the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol as part of a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
The moment, which did not go unnoticed by news outlets and social media observers, marked a brief gesture of affection between the country’s top-ranking Republican and Democrat as both the end of the Russia investigation and the 2020 presidential election loom closer.
But it’s perfectly in keeping with Trump’s relationship with Pelosi.
Long a fan of the derisive nickname, Trump has yet to apply any label to how he describes Pelosi, instead preferring to just call her “Nancy.” (Compare that to how he talks about other Democratic leaders, such as Sen. Chuck Schumer.)
“I think the president respects Nancy Pelosi and understands that she represents voters that would never vote for him but also that if she’s serious about getting things done, he’s willing to really negotiate in good faith with her,” Rep. Mark Meadows told Politico in January.
Echoed former Trump aide Marc Short, who worked as a liaison with Congress: “I think the president admires people he views as strong, and he does view her as strong. She’s not only the first woman speaker but she hung around and fought to get back to that place. She’s a historic figure, you can’t deny that.”
FAREWELL KISS from President Trump to Speaker Pelosi pic.twitter.com/XwpmThZrDz— Bo Erickson (@BoKnowsNews) March 14, 2019
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While the president struck a public tone of bipartisanship after Pelosi was swept to power in last year’s midterms, they have more often squared off, most publicly over Trump’s demand for a border wall.
He shut the government down in December and January but ultimately ceded to Pelosi and Congressional Democrats.
In a subplot of the shutdown, Pelosi told Trump that he should reschedule his annual State of the Union while the government’s funding was frozen.
Though he initially struck back, stopping her from using a military for travel, he later postponed the speech as she asked — and with the reminder that he needed her permission to speak in the House.
Earlier this week, in a move Trump lauded on Twitter, Pelosi said she would not endorse impeachment proceedings against him unless evidence of wrongdoing was “overwhelming and bipartisan.”
Otherwise, Pelosi told the Washington Post Magazine, Trump would not be “worth” the divisiveness impeachment would create.