Posts Tagged ‘White House’

Trump’s Top Strategist Defects and Has This To Say

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

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An Open Letter to Trump Voters from His Top Strategist-Turned-Defector

By Stephanie Cegielski

This is a fascinating letter from Stephanie Cegielski, who is cited here as being Trump’s first Commincation’s Director in the campaign.  cegielski says that Trump’s original goal was to come in second. That it started as a “Protest Campaign.” True? When the Trump International Hotel in D. C. at the old gorgeous Post Office will open in September? Is Trump just a guy who ultimately loves the idea of having to double or triple  his security for the rest of his life…while not actually having to be President? 

 

Even Trump’s most trusted advisors didn’t expect him to fare this well.

Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it.

The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%. His candidacy was a protest candidacy.

It pains me to say, but he is the presidential equivalent of Sanjaya on American Idol. President Trump would be President Sanjaya in terms of legitimacy and authority.

And I am now taking full responsibility for helping create this monster — and reaching out directly to those voters who, like me, wanted Trump to be the real deal.

My support for Trump began probably like yours did. Similar to so many other Americans, I was tired of the rhetoric in Washington. Negativity and stubbornness were at an all-time high, and the presidential prospects didn’t look promising.

In 2015, I fell in love with the idea of the protest candidate who was not bought by corporations. A man who sat in a Manhattan high-rise he had built, making waves as a straight talker with a business background, full of successes and failures, who wanted America to return to greatness.

I was sold.

Last summer, I signed on as the Communications Director of the Make America Great Again Super PAC.

It was still early in the Trump campaign, and we hit the ground running. His biggest competitor had more than $100 million in a Super PAC. The Jeb Bush deep pockets looked to be the biggest obstacle we faced. We seemed to be up against a steep challenge, especially since a big part of the appeal of a Trump candidacy was not being influenced by PAC money.

After the first debate, I was more anxious than ever to support Trump. The exchange with Megyn Kelly was like manna from heaven for a communications director. She appeared like yet another reporter trying to kick out the guest who wasn’t invited to the party. At the time, I felt excited for the change to the debate he could bring. I began realizing the man really resonates with the masses and would bring people to the process who had never participated before.

That was inspiring to me.

It wasn’t long before every day I awoke to a buzzing phone and a shaking head because Trump had said something politically incorrect the night before. I have been around politics long enough to know that the other side will pounce on any and every opportunity to smear a candidate.

But something surprising and absolutely unexpected happened. Every other candidate misestimated the anger and outrage of the “silent majority” of Americans who are not a part of the liberal elite. So with each statement came a jump in the polls. Just when I thought we were finished, The Donald gained more popularity.

I don’t think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all.

He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy.

A devastating terrorist attack in Pakistan targeting Christians occurred on Easter Sunday, and Trump’s response was to tweet, “Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead, 400 injured. I alone can solve.”
Ignoring the fact that at the time Trump tweeted this (time-stamped 4:37 p.m.) the latest news reports had already placed the number differently at 70 dead, 300 injured, take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous, cartoonish, almost childish arrogance of saying that he alone can solve. Does Trump think that he is making a cameo on Wrestlemania (yes, one of his actual credits)?

This is not how foreign policy works. For anyone. Ever.

Superhero powers where “I alone can solve” problems are not real. They do not exist for Batman, for Superman, for Wrestlemania and definitely not for Donald Trump.

What was once Trump’s desire to rank second place to send a message to America and to increase his power as a businessman has nightmarishly morphed into a charade that is poised to do irreparable damage to this country if we do not stop this campaign in its tracks.

I’ll say it again: Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now.

You can give Trump the biggest gift possible if you are a Trump supporter: stop supporting him.

He doesn’t want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House. He’s achieved that already and then some. If there is any question, take it from someone who was recruited to help the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.

The hard truth is: Trump only cares about Trump.

And if you are one of the disaffected voters — one of the silent majority like me — who wanted a candidate who could be your voice, I want to speak directly to you as one of his biggest advocates and supporters.

He is not that voice. He is not your voice. He is only Trump’s voice.

Trump is about Trump. Not one of his many wives. Not one of his many “pieces of ass.” He is, at heart, a self-preservationist.

In fact, many people are not aware of the Trump campaign’s internal slogan, but I will tell you. It is stolen from a make-believe television presidency on The West Wing where Martin Sheen portrayed President Bartlet. The slogan on the show amongst the idealistic group of Bartlet’s staff was “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet.”

Inside the Trump camp, the slogan became “Let Trump Be Trump.”

It is a repurposed slogan that seemed spot-on for the candidate. He is an intelligent, charismatic man who is involved in every aspect of his organization and would rather speak from the cuff than read briefing notes and recite them. I, in fact, admire Trump for this. But saying this qualifies him to be president is like saying that Seth Rogan is suited to be president. Another extraordinary improvisor, not an extraordinary presidential candidate.

Trump has undoubtedly lived up to the slogan, right down to his main public-relations liaison. Rather than go for a focus-group Washington insider, his communications person had previously taken press calls for the Trump Organization and directed them to the appropriate Trump child. She joked that before joining the campaign she thought “Common Core” was a class at Equinox.

The primary problem with this? What I’ve seen the longer I’ve helped prop him up along with the millions who are helping Trump is that we got the slogan wrong. A more accurate internal slogan would read, “Let Trump Help Trump.”

I don’t dismiss any single Trump constituent, which is why I believe it’s important to let you know that the candidate does.

I, too, think our country has gone off track in its values. I, too, think that we need a dramatic change of course. But I am, in my heart, a policy wonk and a believer in coming to the table with necessary knowledge for leading the free world.

The man does not know policy, nor does he have the humility to admit what he does not know — the most frightening position of all.

I remember watching the second Trump debate and thinking, After this, he is going to have to start hammering it home on policy; the country needs substance to make an informed decision.

I wished for it six months ago and am still waiting for it today. He had an opportunity after the terror attacks in Belgium and instead he used the opportunity to talk about closing the borders and what a mess that country had become. I was appalled that he offered no condolences or words of support; he merely gave his “build a wall” stump speech and talked about his greatness.

I felt sad for him at that moment.

And now, with the latest horrifying terror attack in Pakistan, my sadness has turned into anger.

I consider myself a part of the silent majority that led to Trump’s rise, which is why I want you to know that I am with you — I wanted Trump to be real, too.

He is not.

He even says so himself. His misogyny? That’s the character.

His presidential candidacy? That’s a character, too.

The problem with characters is they are the stuff of soap operas and sitcoms and reality competitions — not political legacies.

Trump made me believe. Until I woke up.

Former Trump Strategist Stephanie Cegielski
And he has no problem abusing your support the same way he cheated hard-working men and women out of millions of dollars, for which he is now being sued.

I came into this eager to support a savvy businessman who received little outside funding. I loved Trump’s outsider status. But a year has now passed since I was first approached to become part of Team Trump.

While the pundits pontificated about what type of PR stunt Trump had up his billion-dollar sleeves, I met with people who convinced me he was serious about changing the political conversation. I wanted to raise millions for him. I wanted to contribute to millions of votes.

[READ: Don’t Be So Sure That Donald Trump Can’t Win the Republican Nomination — Or the Presidency]

And as part of that support, in October, I supported the internal decision to close the Super PAC in order to position him as the quintessential non-politician. I still supported him with great passion after that. The decision to close the Super PAC was part of that devotion to his message of outsider change.

But something was shifting.

Without intending to do so, I began to hear and evaluate him more critically and skeptically as a member of the voting public rather than a communications person charged with protecting his positions.

I no longer felt that he was the leader the country was looking for, and I found myself longing — aching, really — for policy substance that went beyond building a wall and making Mexico pay for it. What were once bold — although controversial — statements now seemed to be attempts to please the crowds, not direction to lead this country to a better place. I began to realize his arrogance and isolation had taken over and were now controlling his message.

And here’s what he tapped into: the unprecedented, unbelievable anger.

Because we are all angry — and we all have a right to be. But Trump is not our champion. He would stab any one of his supporters in the back if it earned him a cent more in his pocket.

Unfortunately, the more vitriolic Trump has become, the more the people responded to him. That drove him to push the boundaries further and further.

I also started seeing a trend of incompetence and deniability.

When there was a tweet that contained an error, he would blame it on an intern; when there was a photo containing a World War II Nazi Germany background, he would blame it on an intern; when he answered questions in an overtly controversial fashion, he would claim that he did not properly hear the question. He refused to take responsibility for his actions while frequently demanding apologies from others.

Imagine Trump wronged you, even in the smallest possible way. He would go to the grave denying he had ever done anything wrong to you — ever.

Trump acts as if he’s a fictional character. But like Hercules, Donald Trump is a work of fiction.

No matter how many times he repeats it, Trump would not be the “best” at being a president, being in shape, fighting terrorism, selling steaks, and whatever other “best” claim he has made in the last 15 minutes.

He would be the best at something, though. He is the best at looking out for Donald Trump — at all costs.

Don’t let our country pay that price.

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The Third Way: A Record of Impact

Friday, January 29th, 2016

The Third Way

The Third Way is not just an idea-that it’s not about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about what works–it’s also an organization in Washington, and it is perhaps the most effective moderate organization in that city. Here is their essential record of achievement entitled a record of Impact. Sometimes people get offended by third wayers, or anyone they see as moderate. “Andrew Cuomo in New York, for instance,  has taken money from the Koch Brothers,” they will say.  Things like this.  I think what may offend people most about Cuomo are the strong armed tactics and a real keen interest in looking good though large public achievements, some of which may not be incredibly efficiently funded, and some that may or may not get done. The Third Way really should boil down to: The most effective use of public funds to “Supercharge” the economy…so that it works for everyone. As noted below, it works as a way to find common ground in many fields. But supercharging the economy so that it works really well for everyone is a HUGE plus, and I think best achieved by a moderate Third Way approach. The Clintons argue they are the best at this. I continue to hold the view that the most successful Third Wayer in History is on the Campaign trail right now: William Jefferson Clinton.

–Milon Henry Levine

 

Clean Energy

Third Way developed a new centrist approach to the climate debate.

Third Way has rejected the ideological rigidity of the climate change debate, which pits climate deniers against those who believe renewables are the only answer. We have developed a campaign to ensure the U.S. leverages all of our energy resources as part of a climate solution, with a focus on commercializing advanced nuclear energy, cutting the carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and moving freight off American roads and onto our rails and waterways. Over a dozen of our proposals have been introduced as legislation or executive orders, and three have become law.

Deficit Reduction

Third Way helped enact over $3 trillion in deficit reduction.

Third Way led the effort on the Democratic side to enact a series of bipartisan deals that reduced the ten-year deficit by $3.3 trillion. Our three-year education and advocacy campaign built support for deficit reduction that included both budget cuts and new revenue. Though these deals were far from perfect, they have eliminated the near-term deficit problem.

Entitlement Reform

Third Way has spearheaded a long-term campaign to fix the safety net.

After the 2008 election, we launched a long-term campaign to make the progressive case for fixing the broken entitlements system. In those five years, we prepared and got introduced a bill that would create a Social Security Commission, created the narrative around an impending “collision course” between entitlements and investment spending, became the leading center-left venue for entitlement reformers, and directly influenced the language and policies of top Democratic officials.

Exports

Third Way was the principal Democratic group behind three free trade agreements.

Third Way played the leading role among Democratic organizations in passing trade deals with Columbia and Panama, and we hosted the kick-off and helped shepherd through Congress the deal with Korea, the largest trade accord since NAFTA. The White House adopted Third Way’s pro-trade messages to make their case for the FTAs, and our policy papers were cited throughout the Congressional debates.

Federal Pensions

Third Way reformed federal pensions for all new employees.

In 2011, Third Way proposed a series of changes to bring federal pensions in line with the private sector. In 2012-13, Congress passed legislation that included our central idea, permanently raising the rate of federal employee retirement contribution from 0.8% to 4.4% for all new federal employees, which will save tens of billions over the next decade.

Gun Safety

Third Way fundamentally altered the gun debate.

As The Atlantic has noted, “The story of the way the gun debate changed is largely the story of Americans for Gun Safety. AGS ceased to exist in 2005… absorbed by…Third Way. But its success endures.” We helped shift the focus for gun safety advocates to the centrist notion of “rights and responsibilities.” We passed ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon to close the gun show loophole and a bill in Congress to improve the background check system. Every major Democratic presidential candidate of the last decade has turned to us for guidance on gun policy and messaging.

Health Care

Third Way helped shape and pass the Affordable Care Act.

Third Way fought successfully for a market-based approach to cost control in the ACA. We also developed a messaging framework built upon a series of reforms that would provide “stability and security” to the insured, and President Obama took our framework and used those exact words repeatedly, including in a speech to a joint session of Congress in September 2009. In a moment when the bill was failing, his shift to our message tipped the balance and helped pass the ACA.

Immigration Reform

Third Way won the support of moderate Senators for immigration reform.

When the initial push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 had lost the support of Democratic moderates, Third Way entered the debate to help shape policy arguments about a pathway to citizenship and making the U.S. a magnet for global talent. We combined that with groundbreaking public opinion research that led to a centrist framework for immigration reform—“tough, fair, and practical”—and helped persuade a number of wavering Senators to support reform. By the time another comprehensive reform bill was up for a vote on the Senate floor in 2013, every moderate Democratic senator supported using this centrist narrative it, including five who had opposed even the narrower D.R.E.A.M. Act in 2010.

Marriage for Gay Couples

Third Way’s narrative reversed decades of losses on marriage for gay couples.

By 2008, advocates of marriage for gay couples had a record of 0 for 30 at the ballot box. We conducted deep public opinion research to understand why, which revealed a serious strategic flaw: the focus on the rights and benefits of marriage was driving away Americans in the middle. To sway these critical voters, we advised advocates to emphasize instead the common value that all couples share around marriage: lifetime commitment. Our approach was widely adopted, and as a result, in part, the tide has turned. Marriage went 4 for 4 with voters in 2012, and political leaders from President Obama on down have used this “commitment” message to announce their support for allowing gay couples to marry.

Middle Class Success

Third Way developed a middle-class success agenda and turned it into legislation.

Our policy ideas on helping the middle class get ahead—including getting to and through college, managing care for an aging parent, preparing for a successful retirement, and starting a small business—have been introduced as thirty-three pieces of legislation in Congress. A number of these were also included in the agenda of the Vice President’s Middle Class Task Force.

Military Readiness

Third Way led the effort to increase the size of the wartime Army.

In 2005, the U.S. Army was nearing a breaking point. Third Way revealed the extent of the strain on the Army in a groundbreaking report, which led to legislation that Third Way initiated co-sponsored by then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). That bill, which increased the size of the Army by 100,000 troops, became law in 2006. Though Third Way opposed the Iraq War, the Army end-strength increase was required to save the force from catastrophe (as happened after Vietnam). We now are pushing to modernize the military for a new era.

Use of Force

Third Way changed the debate in Congress on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

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Jennicet Gutiérrez, The LGBT Activist Who Heckled Obama on LGBT Immigration

Friday, June 26th, 2015

The Activists: Jennicet Gutierrez, an activist on behalf of undocumented LGBT immigrants on Democracy Now from The Georgia Pictures Company on Vimeo.

Jennicet Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans woman immigrant from Mexico, interrupted the president at the beginning of his address shouting for him to “release all LGBTQ immigrants from detention and stop all deportations” Obama fired back, to the the sound of applause from annoyed White House guests, and told her, “You’re in my house” and “Shame on you” before having her escorted out of the premises.

“By booing me and not letting me be clear on the message, yeah, it seemed like they don’t care; to me it was very hurtful and heartbreaking to see my own community turning a back on me,” Gutierrez said to Fox News Latino referring to the crowd at the White House.

“It seemed like they were more concerned to be firing up social media with selfies and knowing they were at the White House with the president,” she added. “To me that is not an issue. An issue is the violence that we are facing in these detention centers,” she said.

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