A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Hey there, this is Oliver Darcy filling in for Brian Stelter.
“DID THE PRESIDENT CONVINCE YOU?”
That is the chyron on “CNN Tonight” as I’m writing tonight’s newsletter – and it’s the big question heading into Wednesday. Did Trump’s speech move the needle? Or, as John King put it earlier in the night, “Did the president win over any Democrats?” It’s hard to imagine he did.
The brief Oval Office address didn’t include any new arguments or information that would prompt anyone to be persuaded one way or another. As Fox’s Chris Wallace bluntly summed up, “The President tonight was making an offer the Democrat’s can’t accept.”
Trump’s private admission to TV anchors
Earlier in the day, Trump hosted television news journalists for an off-the-record lunch at the White House where he reportedly made a huge admission. NYT’s Peter Baker reported via sources in the room that Trump privately told the journalists he wasn’t inclined to deliver the prime time address, but had been persuaded to do so by advisers.
One source told Baker that Trump conceded the speech was “not going to change a damn thing.” The source said Trump went even further, saying his trip to the border was just a big photo op. Then he pointed to Bill Shine and Sarah Sanders and said, “But, these people behind you say it’s worth it.” In other words, even Trump didn’t think he would persuade anyone with his speech.
>> Publicly, of course