White House video campaign: You'd better believe we have an emergency at the border

As an effort to head off Senate approval for Nancy Pelosi’s emergency-declaration rebuke, it’s a day late and a dollar short. As prep for the PR needed to prevent a veto override, though, this series of clips from the White House comms team could be right on time. After the Senate votes as expected to end the emergency Donald Trump declared last month, Trump says he’ll veto it now that it’s clear that action will be necessary:

The aside was to Irish PM Leo Varadkar, who has been battling with the UK over the hard-border issue created by Brexit. Talk about going from the fire to the frying pan …

Earlier this morning, Trump appeared to shift a bit on Republican efforts to limit presidential authority under the National Emergencies Act. He had earlier rebuffed efforts to replace Pelosi’s bill with a compromise from Mike Lee, apparently annoyed at having to give up the authority granted to his office in 1976 and used in 59 other instances. With more Senate Republicans shifting to support the Pelosi bill, Trump tried to woo them back with promises of later support for such reforms:


Too little too late, Senate Republicans responded:

Senate Republicans were caught off guard by President Trump’s tweet that he would support future changes to limit his authority on national emergencies, according to multiple aides — but it’s unlikely it will have a significant effect on the final vote count.

“Too little, too late,” one senior GOP aide said. It may sway a few on-the-fence senators, but the resolution is still expected to pass with a number of GOP defections.

That means that the White House has to begin the fight to keep either chamber from overriding his veto. Yesterday, they began publishing a series of short videos intended to convince Americans of the crisis at the border and the need for emergency executive action to stop it. The effort has continued into this afternoon on Twitter. Here’s a brief taste of the output:

This might have had a greater impact had the White House put together a more coordinated comms strategy like this earlier in the debate. It’s the type of messaging that would have worked better in parallel with the emergency declaration, which itself would likely have worked better at the start of the shutdown than several weeks later. Still, this is exactly what the White House has to do if it wants to build more political support for its use of the NEA.

They’d be best advised to keep Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) on tour. I spoke to him Tuesday while guest-hosting for Hugh Hewitt, and he’s clear about the reality on the border and the nature of the emergency. His National Guard experience on the border makes him a very credible surrogate for Trump on the issue, much more credible than Trump himself. The White House should have Kinzinger doing their lobbying on Capitol Hill and in the media.

Here’s a sample from Kinzinger on CNN last week that should still be making the rounds. Meanwhile, I’ll guess that the Senate vote on the Pelosi resolution will be 60/40, and I may take the over.