The shout-down that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi encountered Monday at a San Francisco town hall from ‘Dreamer’ advocates is just the latest example of the backlash Democrats are facing from the liberal base for so much as hinting at cooperation with President Trump.
Pelosi, the top House Democrat, faced protesters’ ire after she and Senate counterpart Chuck Schumer agreed to work with Trump to keep protecting young illegal immigrants under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Trump wants to roll back the DACA executive action but has asked Congress to come up with a legislative alternative.
“It’s real,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, told reporters on Tuesday. “These Dreamers are stressed.”
The protesters want Pelosi to push for DACA protections without offering concessions to Trump and his Republican allies. And she’s not the only California Democrat facing pressure from the base for opening the door to Trump talks.
Dianne Feinstein, a California Democratic senator for roughly 25 years and a former San Francisco mayor, faced a similar response at a recent San Francisco town hall where she expressed optimism that Trump could “become a good president.”
Beyond a round of boos, the backlash to her comments could give way to deeper challenges. California Democratic Senate President Pro tem Kevin de Leon, considered a possible 2018 primary challenger, slammed Feinstein for the remarks.
“It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable -- especially Democrats -- not be complicit in his reckless behavior,” de Leon said.
Wealthy California businessman Joseph Sanberg also purportedly is considering a run for the Senate seat. He did not return a request Tuesday for comment.
Feinstein, who also has been at odds with the base over the push for a single-payer health care plan, now appears to be aggressively trying to distance herself from Trump.
Within minutes of Trump’s United Nations speech Tuesday, she issued a statement calling his words “bombastic.”
“The president used it as a stage to threaten war,” Feinstein said, one day after slamming Trump for retweeting a mashed-up video showing him hitting 2016 Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.
She also issued a clarification about her town hall comments on Trump, saying she was “under no illusion” about his rocky presidency.
On DACA, Feinstein could face a tougher reception than Pelosi from the base. While she supports the policy, she has raised questions about the legal standing of the 2012 Obama-era executive action.
“We need to pass a law, and we should do it," the 81-year-old Feinstein told MSNBC the day after Trump announced plans to unwind DACA.
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was elected to the Senate in 1992. She has not said whether she’ll seek a fifth term.
Democrats were getting upset with Pelosi’s newly forged connection with Trump, even before the DACA deal. Days earlier, she and Schumer agreed with Trump on a three-part deal that raised the debt ceiling, funded the government and approved Hurricane Harvey disaster aid.
In the hours after the Pelosi town hall incident, Washington Democrats were attempting to characterize it as just an outburst from a “single-issue group.”
But Pelosi, who has been in Congress for more than 30 years and the top House Democrat for more than 12, is feeling the pressure from her own caucus.
Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly last week told Politico that the party’s rank-and-file wants to at least know periodically that “parameters are being set.”
“Let's not fool ourselves,” Connolly said.
The willingness to engage with a president reviled by their party also worries liberals like Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who warned against "proceeding toward normalizing him."
Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.