Understanding Trump, page 1
Copyright © 2017 by Newt Gringrich
Foreword © 2017 by Eric Trump
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ISBNs: 978-1-4789-2308-4 (hardcover), 978-1-4789-2307-7 (ebook)
This book is dedicated to my wife, Callista,
whose insight helped make this book
possible, and whose support helped us get
Donald J. Trump elected to the White House.
FOREWORD Eric Trump
INTRODUCTION: Why This Book?
PART 1: UNDERSTANDING TRUMP Chapter 1: From Queens to the White House
Chapter 2: The Four-Sided Table
Chapter 3: Winning, Big League
PART 2: UNDERSTANDING THE RISE OF TRUMP Chapter 4: The Rise of the IYI
Chapter 5: The Propaganda Media
Chapter 6: Toxic Identity Politics
Chapter 7: The Great Transition
Chapter 8: The Inaugural
Chapter 9: The Permanent Opposition
PART 3: THE FOUR-BOX MODEL FOR THE TRUMP AGENDA Chapter 10: The Safety Box
Chapter 11: The American Competitiveness Box
Chapter 12: The Health Box
Chapter 13: The Making-Government-Work Box
Chapter 14: Bringing Trump to States and Communities
Chapter 15: The Road Ahead
Appendix I: The Intellectual Yet Idiot from Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Appendix II: The Speeches of Donald J. Trump
by Eric Trump
When my father called my family together to confirm that he would run for president, he said we would quickly learn who our real friends were.… He was right.
In a short time, it was clear that Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, were true friends of the Trump family.
When I met Newt, my first impression of him was that he was incredibly direct—a trait close to our own hearts, and a trait rarely found among the political elite. As we would soon find out, our family was about to face the toughest battle of our lives, and throughout the long, hard-fought Republican primary, and the general election, the Gingriches fought with us. Newt became more than just a surrogate; he became a friend who profoundly understood my father’s tenacity and his passion for one singular goal: to Make America Great Again!
This understanding became vital. As the media and political pundits repeatedly failed to grasp my father’s practical, commonsense approaches to trade, infrastructure, immigration, national security, the rebuilding of our great military, VA reform, manufacturing, jobs, taxes, health care, and so much more, Newt was able to accurately articulate my father’s beliefs. His explanations were clear and compelling. At the same time, he understood how disconnected career politicians and the mainstream media had become for so many Americans seeking the American Dream—an ideal that seemed unattainable to many for the first time in history.
The opposition continued to be baffled, but that didn’t matter. Newt was one of the very few who got it right, versus the tired rhetoric of the pundits, with their endless scripted lines and memorized sound bites. Newt knew the complexity of politics from the inside out, from the marble halls of Washington, DC, to the campaign trail in Middle America. He understood the soul of my father’s message and the movement he created.
Understanding Trump is an inside look into possibly the greatest campaign of all time. My father gained the most primary votes of any GOP candidate in the history of the nation. He shattered voter registration records across the country. He turned traditional debates into “must-see TV.” At a time when most would hold fast to a lifestyle that had become the epitome of the American Dream, my father chose to bring that dream back to those it had eluded for so long. Many books will be written by the very people who got it wrong and, quite frankly, who continue to get it wrong, but this book will stand apart because Newt was one of the very few who got it right—he is a friend and he was there from the beginning.
As to my father, there is no greater man. He is compassionate and caring. He is brilliant and strong. More than anything, he deeply loves our great country. He ran on one promise, to Make America Great Again and he is already well on his way!
WHY THIS BOOK?
It is astonishing to me, as a historian, how the elite media and much of the political establishment refuse to try to understand Donald Trump. They have been so rabidly opposed to him, so ideologically committed to left-wing values, and so terrified of the future that they haven’t stopped and considered how extraordinary his success has been.
President Trump is one of the most remarkable individuals to ever occupy the White House. His set of practical business experiences—and his lack of traditional political-governmental experiences—make him a unique president.
President Trump is the first person to be elected president without first having served in public office or as a general in the military. He defeated more than a dozen other Republicans in the primary, many of whom were first-class candidates—governors, senators, business leaders, physicians, and so forth. He defeated a multibillion-dollar campaign machine for Hillary Clinton. He defeated the mainstream media, which opposed him at every turn. And he did this without an army of political consultants or spending hundreds of millions of dollars on TV ads.
The first few months of his presidency have been a whirlwind of activity, and he has already enacted enormous change. He has experienced victories as well as defeats. One thing I have learned about Donald Trump is that he learns very fast—and that the speed at which he operates optimizes his learning. So, one of the most fascinating aspects of his presidency will be how he overcomes the gaps in his knowledge of institutional government.
Trump’s background could not be more different from my own. He is a very successful businessman with a knack for branding, marketing, and management. His abilities have made him both a billionaire and a household name.
I am an army brat who earned a PhD in history to learn how to help America solve its problems. I have a fair amount of political, legislative, and governmental experience that the president does not have.
But we really became acquainted in 2009, after Callista and I joined Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia. The club is a classic Trump success story. The bank had taken over the old Lowes Island course after it went broke. As usual, the bank was a bad manager, and the course had decayed and lost value. When the time was right, Trump stepped in and bought it at a fraction of what it was really worth. This smart business move earned Trump the only golf course on the Potomac River. It had a magnificent view from the clubhouse and enormous potential. It has been a great place for Callista and me to decompress and golf ever since.
In 2011, I was preparing to run for president, so I made a trip to Trump Tower. Donald was generous with his time, happy to discuss the campaign, and gave me several Trump ties—which he pointed out were longer than standard ties and had become the best-selling ties in America. We took a picture together and he encouraged a number of his friends to help my campaign. In the end, as a pretty good calculator of the odds, Trump endorsed Mitt Romney, but we remained friends and even campaigned together for Mitt.
By 2014, it was clear Trump was getting interested in running for president himself. We were together at a day-long conservative conference in New Hampshire sponsored by my good friend Dave Bossie of Citizens United. Trump had come up from New York in his helicopter. He made a speech, and before he left, he took Dave’s kids up for a short flight. It occurred to me then that offering a helicopter ride was a method of building support that few candidates have.
Finally, in January 2015, Callista and I were in Des Moines, Iowa, for the Freedom Summit hosted by Dave Bossie and Representative Steve King of Iowa. Trump was staying at the downtown Marriott, and so were we. The night before the conference, Trump called Callista and me to ask if we could have breakfast the next day. Of course, we agreed.
It was classic Trump. He led the conversation with a couple of great real estate war stories in which he was successful. Then he got down to business. For forty-five minutes, he asked Callista and me questions about our experience running for president. Then, at the end, he asked me what I thought it would cost to run a campaign from start-up through the South Carolina primary.
I began to lay out what I thought. I told him he had to run a national campaign or the news media and voters would not take him seriously. I also told him he needed to plan to run in Iowa and New Hampshire, and I ran through various things we had learned in 2011 and 2012.
In a very Trump-the-businessman way, he said, “So, what’s the bottom line?”
I thought for a minute and said he could be competitive for about $70 to $80 million.
His response was priceless. After a moment of thought, he said, “$70 to 80 million: that would be a yacht. This would be a lot more fun than a yacht!”
That’s when Callista and I learned that a Trump candidacy was likely—and a Trump presidency was possible.
A few weeks after he won the South Carolina primary, I was talking to Trump on the phone. At the tail end of our conversation he jokingly said, “By the way, I know you said I needed to spend eighty million but I’ve only spent thirty million. I feel kind of bad.”
Thus, I learned about Trump’s frugality and his operating principle of “ahead of schedule and under budget.”
Understanding Trump developed from all the things I have experienced since that meeting at the Des Moines Marriott as I have watched and worked with the Trump candidacy, transition, and presidency.
I hope this book will help people better understand that we may be at a watershed moment for our country. Trump represents the third—and hopefully final—great effort to break away from a half century of big-government liberalism dating back to the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. The first big push came in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan took office. The second was in 1994, when we signed the Contract with America.
The Left and much of the media are horrified, because the age-old power structures on which they rely are specifically the ones President Trump is seeking to demolish and rebuild. Some in the establishment are confused, because Trump’s campaign—and his first months in office—are totally opposite from business as usual in Washington.
His success calls into question their presumed expertise and collective worldview. But many Americans are happy. To them, President Trump represents a force of change in Washington—the likes of which we’ve rarely seen in American history.
Trump’s election is a tremendous opportunity to tear down the walls of big government, liberalism, and elitism and set the path for a bold new direction that is once again guided by the will of the people. His approach to politics and governing can be studied as a remarkable strategy for breaking out of the Left’s intransigent power structure.
At the center of this phenomenon is President Trump, and as he learns and continues to evolve, this phenomenon will change with him. This book is a step toward understanding President Trump and his vision for the country, so we can achieve real and substantive change to make America great again for all Americans.
It is impossible to understand President Donald J. Trump without first understanding where he came from. The knowledge he gained from decades of running a successful, world-spanning business shapes every decision he makes. The following chapters describe the most remarkable change agent to win the presidency. President Trump seems different because he is different. From building big buildings to running casinos, managing golf courses, creating the top-rated popular TV show The Apprentice, and owning and running the Miss Universe contest, Trump has experiences and lessons from life and business no other president has had. To understand his presidency, you must understand his background.
Anytime a meal was served when I flew with candidate Trump aboard his nicely outfitted 757, it was invariably McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or similar fast food. Here was this billionaire with a big plane and a professional crew, and his personal taste leaned toward main street American fast food. Friends who saw him in Palm Beach at the fancy Sunday brunch at his golf course reported the same pattern. Trump would wander through the line and get a cheeseburger and fries. It was a very practical reminder that in his heart Trump was raised as a middle-class guy from Queens—not a Manhattan socialite.
FROM QUEENS TO THE WHITE HOUSE
Even today, months after Trump won the election and was sworn in as president, the news media still tries to cover him as if he were a normal politician, and his ideological opponents continue to be viciously dishonest. They are either clueless or lying. Ignore them.
America has never seen a candidate and a president like Trump. Many in the elite political class and the national media still simply do not—and cannot—grasp his methods.
Since he announced his bid for the presidency, Donald J. Trump has been misunderstood, underestimated, and misrepresented.
Think about the torrent of criticism Trump received for his announcement event at Trump Tower. In addition to the intense criticism he received for what he said about people who are in the country illegally, Trump was mocked for ad-libbing his speech, boasting about his wealth, and his theatrics.1 The elites snubbed him, but his message resonated with normal Americans.
Trump understood that since he was running as an outsider, the more he sounded like a politician, the more it undercut his message. So he abandoned his prepared remarks and spoke extemporaneously. This choice to go without the security of written text at such a big moment was, in fact, an act of extraordinary message discipline. The pundits accused him of “rambling.”
Trump also understood that most Americans believed that their voices were not being heard, that the only people whom politicians listened to were ones who could cut big checks. So Trump spent a lot of time boasting about h
The pundits also didn’t realize that starring in and producing The Apprentice for over a decade had given Trump an ability to use television in ways they could not appreciate. Visuals matter more than words. Style matters more than convention. The overall impression matters more than the details.
Trump understood that he was being covered live and the cameras weren’t going to turn away. So he forced the networks to cover him standing next to his supermodel wife, slowly descending the escalator into the ornate lobby of a building that had his name on it. Think about the image of success this visual conveyed to most Americans. He was communicating that the American Dream is not dead—it can be revived and made available for all once again. The pundits thought it bizarre.
Finally, Trump understood that a sizable bloc of voters was sick of the government not living up to its obligations—and the primary obligation of the federal government was to enforce the law and keep its citizens safe. These voters watched for decades as politicians promised to get serious about border security only to be bullied into inaction by the Left’s accusations of racism. So, while Trump’s remarks about drugs and criminals coming from Mexico was not fair to the vast majority of those here illegally who do not otherwise break the law, he sent a signal to all the voters sick of cowardice on this issue that he did not care about political correctness and could not be intimidated.
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