2017-03-23 / Views

Trump, Snyder have a ‘cool’ relationship

By Tim Skubick

One picture is worth a thousand words, and President Donald Trump proved that the other day.

It’s no secret that the new president and the current Michigan governor are not the best of buds. Last December, Gov. Rick Snyder stated the obvious: “I have no relationship” with Mr. Trump.

Up to that point, they did meet once, somewhere, but it was uneventful. Yet this governor was smart enough to realize that he needed to develop a constructive relationship with the new White House just as he effectively did with the old one under former President Barack Obama. Heck, Mr. Snyder even rode in the presidential limo — better known as the “Beast” — with the president near the end of his term.

Suffice it to say, it may be a cold day in you-know-where before Mr. Snyder gains that kind of access again.

Mr. Snyder did attend the Trump Inauguration and did attend a White House dinner for every governor. But as for face time, there is has not been much.

So when word reached town that Mr. Trump was coming to Michigan to visit the auto mobility shop in Ypsilanti, there was a real buzz about how this might be a chance to start laying the groundwork for an honest-to-goodness relationship between the two.

Visits such as this have their own internal protocol that usually means the sitting governor gets a chance to interact with the president. But the optics of this visit left something to be desired, to say the least.

The video showed President Trump at the head of the pack walking with the head of Fiat Chrysler, and just behind them were the heads of the other car makers. And there, behind them all, was one Gov. Rick Snyder, who even wore a nice blue tie.

He was stuck in the back of the pack with the head of the EPA. The non-verbal message was oh-so-clear: The president did not want to walk with this governor, so this governor was relegated to bring up the rear.

To make matters worse, during a chance for a photo opportunity, the president motioned the governor to come over for a picture but coupled the invite with this, “Even though you did not support me.” And then he added that he would remember that.

It is true that Mr. Snyder did not support Mr. Trump. To be sure, he never said anything good or bad about the Trump candidacy. Every time the candidate came to Michigan, it seems the governor found something else to do. It was the kind of treatment Mr. Trump noticed. Given a chance to take a shot to get even, Mr. Trump took it during the photo gig in what has been described as an “awkward” moment.

To be fair here, all of this is not the end of the world for the governor. But it does underscore that he has to tip-toe around this new president so as not to offend him again.

The current battle over Medicaid expansion is a classic example. Gov. Snyder and other more moderate and like-minded governors are not overjoyed with the prospect of losing federal support for a very popular and successful program to provide health insurance to needy families in Michigan, Ohio, and elsewhere. Mr. Snyder has not blasted the Trump administration for suggesting the money could run out next year or 2020. But he has said that “there is more work to be done” on changing the program.

This comes after the governor had input on the work product before it was released. When the statement came out, it was evident the governor’s input had been pretty much ignored.

If there is a glimmer of hope, it lies in the fact that Mr. Snyder now has two former aides who work for Vice President Mike Pence. Also, former Gov. Pence and Mr. Snyder do know each other so one assumes they work well together. So all is not lost.

As for the Trump-Snyder relationship, it isn’t there yet. At least the governor has a picture to show his friends that he sort-of got close to the president, which is more than what he had before the visit.

That’s if the White House doesn’t crop him out of the shot.

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