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Analyzing Trump’s strategy at Phoenix rally, plus the growing divide between Trump and Senate leadership




U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ralph Freso/Getty Images

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After a tumultuous week following Charlottesville, President Trump returned Tuesday night to one of the places it seems he’s most happy: at a podium in a packed auditorium for a campaign-style rally.

In a speech that covered a sweeping range of topics, Mr. Trump defended his previous condemnation of the racially-charged violence in Charlottesville and accused media outlets of misrepresenting his words, suggesting that was what led to the backlash following those comments, which many people felt didn’t go far enough in denouncing racism and white supremacy. He also took aim at Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, though he didn’t call them out by name. Both have pushed back against the president at different times and have since drawn his ire. Outside, protesters gathered in opposition to the president and even clashed lightly with police at times.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., relations between the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appear to be frozen over. The New York Times reports the two have not spoken in weeks and that in private, Senator McConnell has expressed doubt that the Trump administration can pull itself out of the hole in which it has found itself. This punctuates what has been a strained relationship between the two throughout the administration’s time in office and brings into question Congress’ ability and willingness to work on Mr. Trump’s legislative to-do list when it returns from recess in September.

Guests:

Jimmy Jenkins, senior field correspondent at Phoenix NPR affiliate 91.5 KJZZ who was at Tuesday’s rally in Phoenix; he tweets @newsjunkyjimmy

Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent for The New York Times; he tweets @jmartNYT