U.S. President Donald Trump claimed Monday that his political base of Republican support is "far bigger & stronger than ever before," despite new polling that shows it eroding.
Trump tapped out a string of Twitter comments from his working vacation at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, deriding the surveys as "phony Fake News polling."
He contended that political rallies he's held in several states he won in last year's election show his continuing strength and that several factors "have driven the Trump base even closer together. Will never change!"
Recent national surveys show that only about a third of American voters approve of his performance during the first 6 1/2 months of his presidency, with declining support among segments of voters who cast ballots for him.
But Trump cited record highs in the country's main stock markets, tightened border security, job growth, business deregulation and approval of a conservative choice for a Supreme Court opening as evidence that he is succeeding.
He said that it is "hard to believe" that "the Trump base is getting stronger!" despite months of coverage by the mainstream news media of what he called "the Fake News Russian collusion story."
Numerous investigations are underway in Washington about whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russian officials to help Trump defeat his Democratic challenger, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is conducting a criminal investigation, convening a grand jury to hear testimony about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey, another former FBI director, when he was leading the agency's Russia investigation before Mueller took over.
Last week's Quinnipiac University poll showed that 61 percent of Americans view Trump's White House performance unfavorably and 33 percent favorably, the lowest ever standing for a U.S. leader in his first months in the White House. Other polls also show Trump with less than a 40 percent approval rating.
The Quinnipiac survey also showed that his support among a key Trump demographic — white voters without a college degree — had fallen, with 43 percent of that group approving of his performance and 50 percent disapproving. In the election, surveys showed 66 percent of whites with no college degree voted for him over Clinton.
Attack on Blumenthal
While claiming political support among Republican voters, Trump also attacked Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal in a series of tweets after the Connecticut senator appeared on CNN and said "there is no minimizing or underestimating that attack by the Russians” on last year's presidential election, leading to the current investigations.
Trump called Blumenthal "a phony Vietnam con artist! He told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?"
Trump's allegations stem from Blumenthal's admission during his 2010 election campaign that he had served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam war, but not in Vietnam as he had repeatedly said.
After Trump's tweets, Blumenthal said, "Mr. President: Your bullying hasn't worked before and it won't work now. No one is above the law."