By Alexander Bolton - 04-13-17 18:34 PM EDT
Conservative leaders are putting President Trump on notice: If he doesn't stick to his campaign promises, there will be hell to pay in the midterm election.
Activists are particularly disappointed with the failure to repeal ObamaCare and defund Planned Parenthood.
"Someone's got to take responsibility. They no longer have excuses not to do things," said L. Brent Bozell III, the chairman of ForAmerica, a conservative advocacy group.
Other conservatives are disappointed at Trump's flip on the Export-Import Bank. The president told The Wall Street Journal this week that "actually it's a very good thing."
"I think that's a tragic mistake on his part," said Andrew Roth, vice president of government affairs at the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has frequently criticized Trump.
Trump supporters in the media such as Ann Coulter have expressed disappointment that the president has stalled in building his wall on the Mexican border. His appointment of Kevin Hassett to lead the Council of Economic Advisers has also taken a hit from anti-immigration groups opposed to Hassett's support for increased immigration.
Roy Beck, president of Numbers USA, a group dedicated to reduced immigration levels, says he is waiting on Trump to fulfill his promise of repealing Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants work permits to immigrants brought into the country illegally at a young age.
"There's lots and lots of question marks. It starts with his broken promise on DACA," Beck said. "He made such an explicit promise on repealing DACA on day one."
Bozell warns that Trump will pay a political price if he doesn't energize his base.
"If they don't do it, I absolutely guarantee you that conservatives will walk," he said.
There is a real danger for Trump in the form of next year's midterm elections and a possible enthusiasm gap between the parties.
Liberals opposed to Trump have momentum, and both parties will be watching the outcome of a special election in Georgia next week to see if a Democratic candidate can ride left-wing enthusiasm to an upset victory in a House race.
Democrat Jon Ossoff would take the seat if he can get a majority of the vote on Tuesday. If he fails, the top two candidates will go to a runoff. Ossoff is facing a large GOP field in the first stage of the election, and Democrats are hoping low turnout could help him get to 50 percent on Tuesday.
"He needs to follow through on those conservative promises to have the GOP's enthusiasm match the Democrats," Roth said of Trump.
Republicans are far from being completely in the dumps on Trump.
Some of his recent appointments and reversals have won praise from the GOP.
He united the party in successfully confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Roth praised his decision to back away from labeling China a currency manipulator, though that is a decision that will not play well with other parts of Trump's base.
Trump's decision to launch a missile strike against Syria has drawn broad GOP support, including from senators often critical of his policies such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). At the same time, the decision has not been praised by conservatives who liked Trump's rhetoric about staying out of foreign fights.
"I understand that the surgical strike that he did was the president's prerogative, but I think most conservatives expect that if he does anything further he'll come to Congress for a vote," said former Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), who was a member of the Freedom Caucus and the Foreign Affairs Committee while serving in the House.
"If this is the beginning of a long-term engage in Syria, then that's a whole other thing and I think conservatives will be outraged that we're going down the same road of nation building that President Trump campaigned against," said Brian Darling, a conservative strategist who formerly served as an aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
All in all, Roth said Trump's record has been a "mixed bag," echoing other conservative activists.
Trump's reviews among activists will be shaped by what happens next on ObamaCare.
House Republicans are scrambling to revive the ObamaCare repeal effort over the April recess. Two leading members of the House Freedom Caucus, Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Dave Brat (R-Va.), say a deal is close at hand.
Tony Perkins - president of the Family Research Council, a group dedicated to promoting "faith, family and freedom" - predicts healthcare reform legislation will pass in the next few weeks and will include language defunding Planned Parenthood.
"I think we're very close to seeing the repeal of ObamaCare," he said. "We're going to see for the first time in that repeal bill the defunding of Planned Parenthood."
"Given what the Trump administration walked into I think they've done pretty well," he said, but cautioned a major test will be whether ObamaCare legislation with the defunding language gets across the finish line.
If it falls short, he warned, he said it would "absolutely" be a problem for Republicans in the 2018 elections.
"Those were very prominent promises that were made and I think the president gets that," Perkins said. "These promises made have to be promises that are kept."
Darling said conservatives are "still supportive" of the president and "excited" about his presidency. But he cautioned that "it's been a rough first few months."
He placed some of the blame on Congress.
"The first hundred days has not gone well, no two ways about it," he said. "There's been executive action, the president has been implementing a lot of his policies but Congress hasn't been a partner."