Lewandowski

Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager to Donald Trump, speaks to a crowd in Myrtle Beach on Jan. 20, 2017. Chloe Johnson / staff

MYRTLE BEACH — Just over 10 hours into a partial federal government shutdown, Corey Lewandowski, the one-time manager of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, was in no mood for compromise.

"This Schumer shutdown that we have, do you know what it has done?" Lewandowski told tea party members, referring to Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

"It has put non-U.S. citizens in front of our military," he continued. "It has said that people who don't belong in this country, who are here illegally, are more important than the people who are here legally and serve our country every day." 

Lewandowski's message Saturday was well-tailored to the room at the Crown Reef Resort in Myrtle Beach where roughly 150 people gathered to listen to him speak as a part of the sixth annual South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention.

Lewandowski, who was Trump's campaign manager from January 2015 to June 2016, was also promoting a book titled with his common refrain as he worked on the campaign: "Let Trump Be Trump."

His words reflect the tea party view of the then-hours-old shutdown versus Schumer and other Democrats who had sought to extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded people brought to the country illegally as children. By Friday night, DACA was not included in the funding packaged pushed by Senate Republicans, which ultimately failed. 

Lewndowski told The Post and Courier that Republicans might be willing to make a deal if Democrats were willing to agree to restrictions on immigration like Trump's long-promised southern border wall. He also suggested that Senate rules should be changed to cut out Democrats completely by requiring a simple majority for the funding measure, which had a 60-vote threshold.

As Lewandowski signed a stack of books, admirer Bob Dowd pulled the author aside to pose for a picture and asked a question: "Do you think things will work out for (Trump), draining the swamp?"

"It's not easy, they fight like hell," Lewandowski responded. "I've offered to kick down a few doors."

Though he has never had a formal position inside the administration, Lewandowski remains a staunch defender of his former boss and on Saturday lashed out at both real and perceived enemies. He called out the Clintons, the Democrats, the FBI, the mainstream media and the "Deep State" for Trump's woes.

In particular, he noted the investigation into the Trump campaign's potential connections to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"There was no collusion, there was no coordination, there was no cooperation," insisted Lewandowski, who said he was at Trump's side more often during the campaign than the president's wife, Melania Trump.

Lewandowski on Wednesday was called to testify before a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the possible Russian ties. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told the Associated Press that he had refused to answer questions about his time in the campaign. 

Lewandowski characterized his testimony differently to the Post and Courier, and said lawmakers simply did not want to believe what he was telling them. 

"'No collusion' — the Democrats don't like that answer," he said.

The tea party gathering continues Sunday and Monday, featuring a variety of speakers on conservative topics. On Monday three of the four Republicans running for South Carolina governor — Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill and former agency head Catherine Templeton — are set to attend a campaign forum at the event. Gov. Henry McMaster is not scheduled to take part.

Reach Chloe Johnson at 843-735-9985. Follow her on Twitter @_ChloeAJ.