Americans don't think that President Donald Trump represents himself well when he speaks for the White House, and people don't think that press secretary Sean Spicer and counselor Kellyanne Conway are that much better, findings from a new poll suggest.
The Monmouth University survey, released May 31, found that 61 percent of respondents believe that Trump hurts, rather than helps, his own cause when he speaks for his administration, while only 33 percent said the opposite.
But Conway and Spicer, Trump's two primary spokespeople, fared almost as poorly: 40 percent said that Conway's public appearances hurt Trump's administration, rather than help, while 42 percent said the same of the press secretary. Meanwhile, 28 percent said the opposite of each of them, and 30 percent reported no opinion for each.
"This is the epitome of a no-win situation," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey. "It's not as if Trump's appointed spokespeople are doing worse than the man himself. It may simply be an impossible task to represent this president and come off as credible."
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The survey results arrive after Trump himself has brought up the possibility of dialing back or eliminating press briefings with his surrogates and instead speaking to the media directly, notes the Washington Post. Rumors have also been circulating that Spicer will have limited communication with the media, notes Politico.
In the Monmouth poll, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fared a little bit better than Conway, Spicer and Trump, with more than half of respondents voicing no opinion on her, while 23 percent said that she helps the administration, and 22 percent said that she hurts.
There is, however, one person who came far ahead of the others: Vice President Mike Pence. A 53 percent majority said that he helps the administration, while only 29 percent said that he hurts it when he speaks on its behalf.
"It shouldn't escape D.C.'s attention that the vice president is seen as a better mouthpiece for the administration than the man who actually occupies the Oval Office, even among their fellow Republicans," said Murray.
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Though the survey responses were predictably split along party lines, with Democrats saying that each of the five people hurt rather than help and Republicans saying the opposite, Pence fared better than the rest among both groups, with 32 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of Republicans agreeing that he helps, while 48 percent of Democrats and 4 percent of Republicans said the opposite.