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Trump says he's winning wall funding fight: 'I have never had this much support'

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By Jonathan Allen  with NBC News Politics
Image: Sarah Huckabee Sanders
President Trump spoke in the press briefing room at the White White on Thursday, the day before he was scheduled to meet with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders.   -   Copyright  Evan Vucci AP

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took to the White House briefing room Thursday to tell reporters that he is winning a fight over funding for his promised border wall that has kept parts of the government shut down for nearly two weeks.

"I have never had so much support as I have in the last week over my stance for border security, for border control, and for frankly, the wall or the barrier," Trump said in his first remarks ever in the briefing room. "I have never had anything like it in terms of calls coming in, in terms of people writing in, and tweeting and doing whatever they have to do."

"I have never had this much support, and we've done some things that as you know, have been very popular," he added.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week suggested that 47 percent of Americans blamed the president for the shutdown while 33 percent blamed Democrats in Congress. Before spending authority for several executive branch agencies expired Dec. 21, Trump had said he would be "proud" to take responsibility for a shutdown if it occurred because he didn't get the wall money he had demanded.

Trump's remarks Thursday were delivered less than 24 hours before he was set to meet with Democratic and Republican leaders from the House and Senate to discuss the ongoing shutdown and his request for $5.6 billion in funding for the wall. And they came just hours after Democrats formally took control of the House — the result of House Republicans' defeat in November's midterm elections.

Trump congratulated new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with whom he'll have to work if he wants to get his legislative agenda enacted.

"Hopefully we have a lot of things we can get done together, and I think it's actually going to work out," he said. "I think it will be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking. So I congratulate Nancy. Tremendous, tremendous achievement."

The House was expected to pass separate bills later Thursday to re-open the shuttered parts of the federal government, but the Senate was not expected to act on them.