I think, if he remains truly engaged, Donald Trump can be a very effective advocate for his agenda on the Hill. The first big test is obviously Obamacare repeal. Trump has a carrot in White House meetings, trips to Mara Lago, etc., where he can turn on the charm and make members feel important. Then, there’s the stick, namely his Twitter feed where he can exert incredible pressure on his targets. It’s one thing to withstand this if you are Chuck Schumer or a journalist (for people like that it’s a badge of honor); it’s another thing entirely if you are a Republican who cares about what your party’s base thinks about you. This Trump tweet earlier this week about Rand Paul clearly was an implicit threat:
I feel sure that my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2017
If a senator like Paul is an isolated hold-out, he could get a nickname and be subject to a ferocious assault of the sort that he has never experienced from within his own party. That’s one reason that Trump could be a potent force getting this bill over the top.