Category Archives: World

politics news

Black Candidates Win Mayoral Races, Could Affect US Politics

When Wilmot Collins knocked on doors across Helena, Montana, residents wanted to know what he would do to address homelessness, affordable housing and other municipal issues.

“They didn’t once ask me if you think a black person can win a race in this town,” the Liberian immigrant told The Associated Press a day after his election.

Fifty years to the date after the nation’s first black mayor was elected to lead a large American city, voters in more than a half-dozen large and small cities chose black candidates as mayors Tuesday. Most of the mayors are Democrats, but some of the races were nonpartisan. Political experts say the results could have national political consequences as the Democratic Party looks to build its bench with a more diverse pool of candidates and the mayors seize opportunities to bring about change at the local level in an era of gridlock in Washington under President Donald Trump.

Vi Lyles was elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, becoming the first black woman to run North Carolina’s largest city. City Councilman Melvin Carter was elected the first black mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota. Voters in Cleveland and in Flint, Michigan, re-elected black mayoral incumbents. The result in Ohio came 50 years after Carl Stokes made history in Cleveland in becoming the nation’s first big-city black mayor.

Stephanie Mash Sykes, executive director of the nonpartisan African American Mayors Association, said there are about 30 black mayors of U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents. The 2010 Census lists more than 200 cities and regional areas that size.

Those 30 black mayors include Randall Woodfin, who defeated black incumbent William Bell last month in Birmingham, Alabama. New Orleans will be on that list as two black women are in the runoff for mayor. Atlanta City Councilwomen Keisha Lance Bottoms, who’s black, and Mary Norwood, who’s white, are headed to a runoff for Atlanta mayor.

Not all black candidates found success. Tito Jackson, a black city councilor in Boston, was defeated Tuesday by incumbent Mayor Marty Walsh, who’s white. And in Detroit, Coleman Young II, the son of the city’s first black mayor, lost to incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan, who first was elected in 2013 as Detroit’s first white mayor since 1973.

“We’ll win some. We’ll lose some,” Sykes said, but “voters are looking for a leader that’s effective in developing innovative solutions for jobs, access to affordable housing.”

The victories could translate to national politics, according to Paul Watanabe, political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“For most of these mayors from the Democrat party, they may provide an answer to the question: Is there any new leadership on the Democratic side?” Watanabe said. “Perhaps one might look to governors or to mayors, particularly, for candidates of color who might be new or fresh on the scene.”

To some political observers, Tuesday’s general elections also were a referendum on the divisive politics and policies emanating from Washington, where Republicans control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Helena voters shut all that down, said Collins, a psychology instructor at Helena College who left West Africa as a refugee about two dozen years ago.

“The people of Helena told (Washington) that they are an accepting community,” said Collins, who will become the city’s first black mayor since the 1800s. “We want diversity.”

Sykes, who didn’t have a historical record showing if the number of black mayors was the most ever, said the candidates elected Tuesday have an opportunity to play a large-than-usual role in setting the agenda with Washington leaders struggling to get much done.

“We don’t see much of anything to impact local communities, particularly communities of color,” she said. “These mayors are the hopes and opportunities to create solutions on the ground.”

Tuesday’s elections also saw Ravi Bhalla, a Sikh, win the mayor’s race in Hoboken, New Jersey.

In Flint, Karen Weaver fended off a recall effort and beat a number of challengers to complete the last two years of her term.

The recall focused on Weaver’s decision to hire a trash hauler that became connected to a federal corruption investigation. It didn’t refer to Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis.

The city was under state control when it switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money. But the river water wasn’t properly treated, causing lead from pipes to leach into drinking water.

Weaver made the water problems a focus of her successful 2015 mayoral campaign and said she believes her win Tuesday gives a voice to an urban agenda.

In China, Trump Strikes Gentler Tone on N. Korea, Trade

President Donald Trump struck a markedly softer tone on touchy subjects like North Korea and trade with President Xi Jinping of China Thursday, and highlighted his “incredibly warm” feeling toward his counterpart.

During joint statements after talks in Beijing, Trump expressed optimism the U.S. and China will resolve the North Korea nuclear crisis. “I do believe there’s a solution to that, as you do,” Trump said.

Trump said he has “great respect” for Xi’s leadership on trade and noted the U.S. must change its policy. Trump blamed his predecessors in Washington for the trade deficit with China.

“It’s too bad that past administrations allowed it go get so far out of kilter,” Trump added. “But we’ll make it fair, and it will be tremendous for both of us.”

Trump concluded remarks by touting his “great chemistry” with Xi.

The Chinese leader said Beijing’s relationship with Washington “now stands at a new starting point” and vowed to “enhance communication and cooperation on the nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula” and other issues.

“For China and the United States, cooperation is the only viable choice, and win-win cooperation can take us to a better future,” said the Chinese president.

Trump administration officials said during the closed talks, Trump pressed Xi on the North Korea nuclear issue. According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump told Xi, “You’re a strong man, I’m sure you can solve this for me.”

Speaking in Beijing, Tillerson noted “there is no disagreement on North Korea” between the United States and China. The diplomat pointed out the Chinese have been clear and unequivocal over two days of talks that they will not accept a North Korea with nuclear weapons.

“There’s no space between both of our objectives,” said Tillerson. “We have our own views of the tactics, the timing and how far to go with pressure and that’s what we spend a lot of time exchanging views on.”

Tillerson also said the two men also had frank exchanges on human rights and maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Later, Trump and Xi spoke to a meeting of business leaders. Trump said, “I thank President Xi for his recent efforts to restrict trade with North Korea and cut off banking ties. China can fix this problem easily and quickly.”

Bilateral trade

The shift in Trump’s rhetoric on trade was especially notable because the U.S. leader has long complained about the trade imbalance between China and the United States.

After the talks, Secretary Tillerson said, “The things that have been achieved thus far are pretty small” despite long hours of trade talks between the U.S. and China, adding the U.S. concerns about the pace of progress was communicated to Chinese officials Thursday.

For the first 10 months of the year, China’s trade surplus with the U.S. was $223 billion, according to recent data released by China’s General Administration of Customs.

Trump said the U.S. trade deficit with China is “shockingly hundreds of billions of dollars” annually.

President Xi said there is a wider and prosperous future for U.S.-China cooperation on trade, adding that $250 billion worth of business deals were signed during President Trump’s visit to China and that, “Chinese investment in the United States is rising rapidly.”

But the roughly 15 agreements unveiled in Beijing are mostly non-binding memorandums of understanding, and according to Bloomberg News, “could take years to materialize — if they do at all.”

Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is pessimistic that such deals will do much to address the real hindrances to trade relations with China.

“The president likes deals, and he likes big numbers, but we’re not going to change something he doesn’t like, like the trade deficit, without changing Chinese trade practices,” Scissors said. “China has to have a different approach to trade in the world than it does.”

Scissors said that more than the deficit, it is what is behind the numbers, such as the fact that Chinese state-owned enterprises never go out of business.

“Which means American goods and services can’t ever win in the China market,” he said.

In his joint statement, Xi said, “there needs to be in-depth discussions on the trade imbalance” with the United States, among other issues.

The Chinese leaders predicted “there will be a wider and prosperous future for cooperation on trade,” specifically mentioning the oil and gas sector, beer, agricultural products, education and service contracts. He also invited more American companies to participate in China’s One Belt One Road initiative, an effort to create the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation, inspired by the ancient Silk Road trading network.

The United States and China, respectively, have the world’s largest economies and most powerful militaries.

The two leaders walked side by side on a red carpet at a welcoming ceremony early Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The U.S. and Chinese national anthems were played by a military band, and ceremonial cannon fire from Tiananmen Square saluted Trump. An exuberant crowd of school children waved U.S. and Chinese flags.

Business deals

​The Trump administration is showcasing several business deals signed during the China trip, including a deal for China’s biggest online retailer to buy $1.2 billion of American beef and pork.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said such business deals “are a good example” of how the United States “can productively build up our bilateral trade.”

Trump also met Thursday with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, whose position is similar to that of a prime minister.

Trump and his wife, Melania, were received with great pageantry on their arrival to China. The Trumps also were treated to a private visit to the Forbidden City, China’s ancient imperial palace. They also viewed an outdoor opera featuring costumes, music and martial arts.

The U.S. president arrived in Beijing a day after delivering a speech in Seoul, South Korea, in which he called on other nations to unite and “isolate the brutal regime of North Korea.”

Trump is on a 12-day, five-nation tour of Asia that will take him to Danang,Vietnam, on Friday, where he will speak at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Bill Ide, Marissa Melton contributed to this report.

Mnuchin to Fill Fed Vacancies, Awaits Yellen’s Decision

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that Janet Yellen has not said yet whether she plans to remain on the Federal Reserve board when her term as chair ends in February, but the administration is moving ahead with filling other vacancies.

There are three vacancies on the seven-member Fed board and there could be a fourth if Yellen decides to leave. Her term as a board member does not end until 2024.

In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Mnuchin said he had breakfast with Yellen on Wednesday from which he came away with the impression that she had not made a decision about her future at the Fed.

Last week, President Donald Trump announced he would nominate Fed board member Jerome Powell as the next Fed chairman, bypassing Yellen.

If Yellen did stay on the board, she would be only the second former chair to do so. Marriner Eccles, whose name is on the Fed’s headquarters in Washington, remained on the board for three years after he was not nominated for another term as chair by Harry Truman in 1948.

Mnuchin said the goal was to fill the vacancies quickly, but the administration did not necessarily see a need to pick someone with a PhD in economics for the vice chair position even though Powell will be the first person to lead the Fed without a degree in economics in nearly four decades.

“I think our priority is that we are going to fill these positions quickly. Our focus was on the chair,” Mnuchin said. “Now that we have resolved that issue, we are already looking at people for these positions. So I am comfortable we will have the jobs filled.”

Before Trump’s announcement last week, Yellen had declined to say what she might do if she was not tapped for a second term.

“I have said that I intend to serve out my term as chair, and that I’m really not going to comment on my intentions beyond that,” she told reporters in September.

US Federal Judge Imposes Gag Order on Manafort Case

The federal judge overseeing the upcoming criminal trial of two top former Trump aides has imposed a gag order in the case.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson Wednesday ordered defendants Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, their lawyers, and all possible witnesses to “refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that could pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice.”

In all criminal cases, it is always possible that making statements for or against the defendants in the media could make it very hard to find an impartial jury — one whose members have not already made up their minds.

Former Trump campaign chairman Manafort and his associate Gates have been charged with 12 criminal counts over Manafort’s financial dealings with Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

The charges include money laundering, failing to register as agents of a foreign government, and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Manafort and Gates have both pleaded not guilty and are under house arrest.

The charges stem out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steer the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.

The White House has strongly denied the allegations and the Kremlin said it did not interfere in the election.

Trump, Xi to Meet in Beijing; North Korea High on Agenda

U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping early Thursday, and Trump has said he intends to press Xi to push North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Trump arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, his first visit as president to China, North Korea’s closest ally. Trump is expected to call on China to expel North Korean workers from the country and eliminate some of its other dealings with Pyongyang.

The talks between Trump and Xi will also deal with trade, a touchy subject since Trump has long complained about the trade imbalance between the countries.

China’s trade surplus with the United States has widened by 12.2 percent in the past year, reaching $26.6 billion, according to Chinese customs data.

Business deals

Yet, the Trump administration is showcasing several business deals signed during the China trip, including a deal for China’s biggest online retailer to buy $1.2 billion of American beef and pork.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said such business deals “are a good example” of how the United States “can productively build up our bilateral trade.”

Trump is also to meet Thursday with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Trump and his wife were received with great pageantry upon their arrival in China, greeted at the airport by a group of children who jumped up and down and waved U.S. and Chinese flags.

The Trumps were also treated to a private visit to the Forbidden City, China’s ancient imperial palace, and they viewed an outdoor opera featuring costumes, music and martial arts.

After touring the Forbidden City, Trump told reporters, “We’re having a great time.”

The U.S. president arrived in Beijing a day after delivering a speech in Seoul, South Korea, in which he called on other nations to unite and “isolate the brutal regime of North Korea.”

“You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept,” he added.

In that speech to South Korea’s National Assembly, Trump had a forceful message for Pyongyang. He called on leader Kim Jong Un to give up all his nuclear weapons for a chance to step onto “a better path.”

Trump warned the North, “Do not underestimate us and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity and our sacred liberty.”

Backing the president’s words was the presence of three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups and nuclear submarines, which the president said “are appropriately positioned” near the Korean Peninsula.

‘Total failure’

The U.S president referred to North Korea as “a total failure” and a “twisted regime” ruled by a cult and a tyrant who enslaves his people — a characterization certain to provoke a harsh rhetorical reply from Pyongyang.

“The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens it with nuclear devastation,” Trump said in his speech. “All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea to deny it any form of support.”

The U.S. leader had effusive praise for South Korea, contrasting its economic success with the dark situation in the North.

“The more successful South Korea becomes, the more decisively you discredit the dark fantasy at the heart of the Kim regime,” the U.S. president said.

WATCH: Trump Message to North Korean Leader

The speech ended on a hopeful note, which is the Korean dream: the peaceful reunification of the peninsula. But with Kim’s weapons of mass destruction posing a greater threat, Trump warned, “the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows and the fewer the options become.”

Trump generally took a more optimistic view of diplomacy during his visit to Seoul, which included meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He said progress has been made toward defusing heightened tensions in the region, a striking departure from the tone of his tweets in recent weeks suggesting talks with Pyongyang to resolve the nuclear crisis were “a waste of time.”

Speaking Wednesday aboard Air Force One on the approach to Beijing, a senior White House official said Trump and the South Korean leader had reaffirmed their commitment to a coordinated global pressure campaign to bring North Korea back to “authentic denuclearization talks,” while also remaining committed to using a “full range of military capabilities” to defend South Korea and Japan.

‘Sincere steps’ to denuclearize

“Authentic” talks, the U.S. official said, would be without preconditions and would entail North Korea’s agreeing to “reduce the threat, end provocations, and move toward sincere steps to ultimately denuclearize.” Preconditions like refusing to put nuclear weapons on the table, the official said, “is a nonstarter” for the United States.

The U.S. also maintains that any agreement would need to include verification of denuclearization efforts — a key sticking point in multination negotiations that have been attempted in the past.

In a separate statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump would also determine whether the United States will designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism before the end of his visit to China.

It is likely Trump will continue to send out tweets while in China, despite a Chinese block on Twitter. Thanks to communications gear aboard Air Force One, the official said, “the president will tweet whatever he wants.”

VOA White House correspondent Steve Herman contributed to this report from Beijing.

New Jersey’s "Mile Square" City Elects First Sikh Mayor

Just across the Hudson river from Manhattan, the “Mile Square” city of Hoboken, New Jersey, elected its first Sikh mayor on Tuesday.

Democrat Ravi Bhalla, who has served on Hoboken’s city council for eight years and was endorsed by outgoing mayor Dawn Zimmer, claimed victory over five rival candidates late Tuesday night.

The city of just over 50,000 people was given the opportunity to elect the first openly gay, Latino, or Sikh mayor – one of many local U.S. elections Tuesday considered a precursor of the battle between the Republican and Democratic parties in the Trump era ahead of mid-term elections next year. 

Hoboken is a fairly diverse city, with 15 percent of residents identifying as Hispanic or Latino, and seven percent identifying as Asian – both figures just shy of the statewide average, according to 2010 census data.

So the story that dominated local news in the days before the election surprised many – reports of flyers distributed throughout the city with Bhalla’s face under a bold red heading of “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” 

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C., the backlash against Muslims across the United States at times also included members of the Sikh faith. Followers of the Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion that originated in northern India, are often confused with Muslims.

Devout male followers of the Sikh faith keep their beards and hair long and wear turbans.

“This is not reflective of Hoboken,” Bhalla told VOA as he met with residents on their way to the polls. “I’ve been elected to the city council twice now – if it wasn’t a welcoming city I wouldn’t have been elected. So I think it’s an anomaly – it doesn’t represent what Hoboken is.” 

“That said it’s obviously disturbing,” he added.

Also disturbed by the fliers was one of Bhalla’s six rivals for the Mayoral seat – Michael DeFusco. The distributed fliers said they were paid for by DeFusco’s campaign – a claim he has denied. 

Police are searching for answers regarding who may have paid for these messages, based on surveillance videos of two individuals placing them on car windshields throughout the city. But in the meantime, DeFusco says the incident harmed his campaign as well as Bhalla’s.

“One of my campaign fliers was maliciously reproduced and smeared with racist propaganda aimed at one of my opponents,” he told VOA. “But I was also a victim of this terrible act in that my name was associated with this awful hate-filled speech.”

DeFusco, currently serving on Hoboken’s city council, is the first openly gay person elected in the city.

Erica Commisso, a new Hoboken resident, said she was surprised by the amount of negative campaigning in the local election. “There’s a lot more smear campaigns than I’m used to,” she said. 

“Everyone’s been inundated with literature drops, and mailers, and robocalls,” Joshua Einstein, a ten-year resident of Hoboken, told VOA.

Racist propaganda, however, has been reported even in the most diverse of cities. In Edison, New Jersey, where 28.3 percent of residents identify as Indian-American, locals reported seeing flyers calling to “deport” Indian-American and Chinese-American candidates for the school board.

But Bhalla, who along with rival candidates encouraged voters to look past the flier, is now looking forward to the future of his city.

“I’ve seen a lot of the great things we’ve done in Hoboken,” Bhalla said. “So when the mayor asked me to run for mayor…I felt like it was important to try to continue that forward movement.”

Trump Warns North Korea: Do Not ‘Try Us’

In a speech to South Korea’s National Assembly, U.S. President Donald Trump has sent a message north of the border, calling on leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang to give up all his nuclear weapons for a chance to step on to “a better path.”

Trump on Wednesday also warned, “Do not underestimate us and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity and our sacred liberty.”

His words were underscored by the presence of three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups and nuclear submarines, which the president said “are appropriately positioned” near the peninsula.

The U.S president referred to North Korea as a failure, a “twisted regime” ruled by a cult and a tyrant who enslaves his people – a characterization certain to provoke a harsh rhetorical reply from Pyongyang, which has repeatedly accused the United States of preparing to attack and refers to Trump as a deplorable crazed man.

 

“The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens it with nuclear devastation,” said Trump in his speech. “All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea – to deny it any form of support.”

Trump had effusive praise for South Korea, contrasting its economic success with the dark situation in the North.

“The more successful South Korea becomes, the more decisively you discredit the dark fantasy at the heart of the Kim regime,” said the U.S. president. 

Trump’s 35-minute address, which he was still editing at the last minute, according to the National Assembly speaker, came after a surprise but aborted Wednesday morning trip to the Korean DMZ. But it ended on a hopeful note, which is the Korean dream: the peaceful reunification of the peninsula.

But with Kim’s weapons of mass destruction posing a greater threat, Trump warned, “the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows and the few the options become.”

President Trump generally took a more optimistic view of diplomacy during his visit to Seoul, which included meetings on Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He said progress has been made to diffuse heightened tensions in the region, a striking departure from the tone of his tweets in recent weeks suggesting talks with Pyongyang to resolve the nuclear crisis were “a waste of time.” 

The president will now travel to Beijing for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping that are expected to focus on the situation in North Korea as well as trade.

Democrats Notch Big Wins in Virginia, New Jersey

Tuesday delivered a string of high-profile victories for Democrats in gubernatorial races. 

Democrat Ralph Northam decisively won the Virginia governor’s race in what had become a nail-biter of a contest, defeating Republican Ed Gillespie in the election to replace outgoing Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Northam, currently Virginia’s lieutenant governor, held a comfortable lead in many voter opinion surveys until Gillespie launched a series of television ads attacking Northam on such issues as gang crime, immigration and preserving statues honoring Virginians when the Commonwealth and other southern states broke away from northern states during the 19th-century era American Civil War — tactics similar to those used by Donald Trump in his successful 2016 White House bid.

“Today, Virginians have answered, and have spoken — Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart,” Northam said in his victory speech. “We need to close the wounds that divide and bring unity to Virginia.”

Northam’s victory led a Democratic sweep of all statewide races in the Commonwealth, including the offices lieutenant governor and attorney general. The party also posted several upset legislative victories, winning 14 seats in the House of Delegates, just three seats shy of wresting control from Republicans. The Democratic victors included Danica Roem, who beat veteran lawmaker Robert Marshall to become the Commonwealth’s first openly transgender elected official. Marshall was known as a strong opponent of gay and lesbian rights.

Trump, who is on a 12-day five nation trip to Asia, vouched for Gillespie in a series of tweets early Tuesday. But that changed after Northam’s victory was apparent:

“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” the president tweeted from South Korea. “Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”

In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy prevailed as expected over Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno in the race to replace outgoing Republican Governor Chris Christie. Guadagno was hurt by her association with Christie, a candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, whose approval rating have hit a record low as he finishes his eight years in office. 

Murphy, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Germany, has touted a liberal agenda that includes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, increasing taxes on millionaires, boosting funding for schools and legalizing marijuana.

Tuesday’s balloting provides an important early indication of how the electorate views President Trump, as the Republican and Democratic parties try to gain momentum before next year’s mid-term elections. The victories in New Jersey and Virginia, as well as other states and localities, will surely boost morale among Democrats still reeling over Trump’s upset win over Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential campaign.

Republicans were hoping wins will help soothe intra-party bickering between Trump and key congressional Republicans.

One Year On, Trump’s Election Draws Protests, Re-Evaluation

Thousands of Americans are planning to “scream helplessly at the sky” in a show of what organizers say is disgust and frustration at Donald Trump’s election as president exactly one year earlier.

 

The unprecedented protest being played out in many American cities has been mocked by conservatives, sparking incendiary exchanges on the Internet that illustrate the depth of the partisan chasm that divides the significant minority of staunch Trump loyalists and the equally vocal, and arguably larger group that detests him.

 

“American politics had begun to polarize long before President Trump, and crystallized into a sense of tribalism that now pervades politics,” said Dan Mahaffee, executive director of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. “We increasingly see ardent Democrats, ardent Republicans, and little in the middle in terms of pragmatism.”

 

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week is evidence that Trump is the least popular president in the 70 years since polling began. Fewer than four in 10 Americans say they approve of his handling of the job. Almost 60 percent say they disapprove, most of them “strongly”.

 

Even many members of Trump’s traditional Middle American support base say he’s not their ideal president.

“He can be awfully hard to like,” said retired Colorado business executive Eugene Bourque. “But I want someone in the White House who I believe supports the four Cs [Christianity, Capitalism, Conservatism and the Constitution] and is willing to fight down and dirty to protect them.”

 

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shrugs off the low approval ratings, noting public dissatisfaction with Congress is significantly greater.

“His numbers are a lot better than the Congress. I’d take the president’s numbers over Congress any day,” Huckabee Sanders said during a panel discussion at George Washington University marking the election anniversary.

Bad press

 

The press secretary attributes Trump’s unpopularity in part to overwhelmingly negative reporting from a hostile press. She cited an independent study showing coverage on several TV networks had been 93 percent negative, compared to 40 percent negative during the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency.

 

“For people to pretend like there isn’t a greater sense of hostility towards this administration, I think would be to ignore real facts.”

 

Faced with this perceived animosity, Trump has rewritten the rulebook on presidential communications.

“Trump uses [Twitter] to bypass the press in ways that convey an utter disregard for the role of journalism in democratic societies,” says Stanford University professor of communications Theodore Glasser. “Presidents often have an adversarial relationship with journalists, but I can’t think of a single president, including Richard Nixon, who comes close to Trump in terms of his fear of public scrutiny.”

 

Presidential scholar Mahaffee said Trump understood early-on how to exploit the partisan divide and public distrust of the media.

 

“Social media allows for rancor and sensationalism to triumph over fact and reason,” Mahaffee told VOA. “President Trump harnessed these divides for his own ends to get elected, and his approach has been to further them for his own ends to govern.”

Results?

 

When it comes to assessing Trump’s accomplishments, academics interviewed for this report were generally dismissive. “What accomplishments?” replied Stanford’s Theodore Glasser, noting that Republicans had failed to fulfill promised health care and tax reform despite controlling both houses of Congress.

 

Spokeswoman Huckabee Sanders, however, pointed to successes on foreign policy, battling Islamist extremism and the economy.

“He’s done a very good job of developing relationships with a lot of key partners and allies, particularly…[Japanese Prime Minister] Abe and [Chinese President] Xi that are helping to grow the amount of pressure being put on North Korea.”

 

Huckabee Sanders called Trump’s Middle East trip a “major moment in his presidency.”

“In Saudi Arabia, the speech he gave to, I believe it was 68 Muslim majority countries, bringing a lot of those individuals to talk about working together to combat terrorism; that was a historic moment,” she said.

 

The economy is doing remarkably well since Election Day, but economists disagree about how much is the “due to the “Trump effect.”

“Ahead of the election, everyone thought Trump would tank markets — futures markets fell the night of the election as it became clear he had won. But as he gave his victory speech, sentiment changed, and by the morning, stocks were up,” analyst Emily Stewart of thestreet.com told VOA .

 

In a tweet this week Trump noted that market value has increased $5.4 trillion since Election Day, and remains at record high levels.

Unemployment is down to 4.1 percent, lowest in 17 years. 1.5 million new jobs created since I took office. Highest stock Market ever, up $5.4 trill

 

Experts say that among the factors spurring the steady market growth is one Trump rarely trumpets. Yahoo News White House correspondent Olivier Knox told last week’s George Washington University panel discussion that rolling back regulations is Trump’s untold success story.

 

“It’s one of the signal successes of the Trump administration, something that doesn’t get as much coverage as the latest tweet, but it’s a very important story. The systematic methodical rollback of regulations,” Knox said.