Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein told a crowd in San Francisco that if Trump can “learn and change,” she believes ” he can be a good president.”
Predictably, the crowd was shocked:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein may be San Francisco’s favorite politician, but she quickly learned Tuesday evening that even a wildly popular ex-mayor can get into trouble if she tries to say something nice about President Trump.
Feinstein received a standing ovation from the 850 people at the sold-out Herbst Theater when she walked onto the stage for an hour-long “conversation” with former East Bay Rep. Ellen Tauscher. But near the end of the political lovefest, the senator shocked the crowd when she declined to say that Trump should be impeached, and warned the audience that they should expect to deal with the developer-turned politician for all four years of his term.
“The question is whether he can learn and change,” Feinstein told the crowd at the Commonwealth Club event. “If so, I believe he can be a good president.”
That sort of talk was not what the crowd expected to hear from the former S.F. mayor, and they “reacted with stunned silence, broken only with scattered ‘No’s’ and a few hisses and some nervous laughter.”
But Feinstein, undaunted, continued to press her point, auguing that “a strategy of all attack, all the time, wasn’t going to make it easier for her or any other Democrat to accomplish anything in Washington.”
Update Sept. 1: And now, unsurprisingly, comes the liberal backlash, as Feinstein ponders reelection:
At a time when the Democratic base is more restive than it has been in decades, Sen. Dianne Feinstein ignited a firestorm earlier this week when she refused to back the impeachment of President Trump and instead called for “patience” over his presidency.
The statements — provocative in Democratic circles and near-heretical in her hometown of San Francisco, where she made them — reflected a moderation and pragmatism that have been hallmarks of Feinstein’s career. But these qualities, after proving politically advantageous for decades, could become an albatross because of the state’s shifting demographics and political leanings as the 84-year-old decides whether to seek a sixth term.
Potential rivals are already circling.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León lashed out at Feinstein’s remarks hours after she made them Tuesday at the Commonwealth Club, saying that women, children, people of color, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community had little time for patience in the face of the president’s policies.
On Thursday, he reiterated his disappointment in the state’s senior senator.
“It wasn’t the proper tone or tenor, especially given the current state of politics at the national level,” De León, who is termed out and rumored to be considering a Senate run, said in an interview with The Times. “We don’t owe Trump patience. We owe Californians resistance.”
De León’s words were a remarkable rebuke from a top California Democrat of one of the state’s most powerful and venerated leaders. They were also a reflection of how the political landscape in California in 2017 — in the aftermath of the election of Trump and amid simmering rage from the Democratic party’s most liberal activists — is dramatically different from the era when Feinstein gained political prominence.