Scott Jennings: Pres. Trump Is “On Thin Ice Politically”

President Trump’s Bible-wielding photo opportunity has proved controversial. Many evangelical leaders have given it their full support. What do most Republicans make of the president’s handling of the ongoing crisis and his embrace of a “law and order” posture? Scott Jennings has worked for George W. Bush and Mitch McConnell and joins the show to discuss.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Do you think he’s skating on thin ice, you know, trying to be all things to all people, as you say, but actually, you know, going against the constitutional protection for peaceful protest?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, yes. I mean, he’s clearly on thin ice politically, if that’s what you’re asking me. I mean, look at the poll numbers, look at the matchup against Joe Biden, look at the state of the country. I mean, if you look at the situation he’s dealing with, it’s a volatile country. You have very emotional people out there who rightfully want action on serious systemic societal problems. And so, any president dealing with these kinds of massive societal issues is always on thin ice and every word matters. I didn’t like the tweet that he sent out the other night about looting and shooting, I thought that was ill-advised. I frankly didn’t understand the photo-op that he took going over to the church. I mean, I agree with the impulse to go to church and to take a bible but I think I would have rather seen him go in a church and open a bible and worship and pray and commune with people and pray for guidance for our country and pray for peace for our people. So, I don’t view churches and bibles as mere props, I view them as necessary items for faithful people who want to gather and worship and pray. So, I think the president’s instincts are in some ways correct, law and order, seek guidance from above, which, you know, I certainly I support. But on the other hand, you cannot govern a situation like this by photo-op, you cannot govern a situation like this sort of, what do I need to do to get through the next 24 hours? You need a plan and you need to show people your heart. And if your heart is in the words that he spoke yesterday, I want to take care of the peaceful protesters, I want justice for George Floyd and I want to restore order, if that is what is in your heart, then you have to display all of those at the same time. And so, some of the things he has done and said have done that and some of the things have fallen short, but, you know, when you’re the president, you’re running free election, this is one long job interview. And so, you know, Joe Biden can say and do a lot of things. You know, Symone was —


JENNINGS: My friend, Symone, was talking about that. But only Trump can act and the election will be about whether his actions met the moment.

About This Episode EXPAND

Symone Sanders joins Christiane Amanpour to discuss Vice President Joe Biden’s speech in Philadelphia today. Scott Jennings examines President Trump’s response to protests across the U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) explains how she is coordinating the formulation of new policing legislation. The Equal Justice Initiative’s Bryan Stevenson explains the need to change the culture of policing.