Sam Clovis, co-chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, reviewed Sunday night’s second presidential debate on Monday morning’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.
“I thought we did really well,” said Clovis. “I thought the first 15 minutes or so were pretty much as predicted, a little rocky, to be honest, but I think from that moment on, I don’t think there’s any question who was in charge, and I think he really had Mrs. Clinton on the defensive for most of the rest of the debate.”
Clovis disputed the notion that Clinton came to the debate to “talk about the issues.”
“She’s done everything she can to avoid the issues,” he said, “because her tax plan sucks. Her record in foreign policy sucks. She has no love for the military. She’s a criminal, and she ought to be in prison. I mean, I’m just being blunt: this is a woman who ought to be in prison right now. If you or I had done what she has done, we would be in handcuffs in an orange suit, and we would be in a maximum security federal prison right now.”
Clovis said it was “absolute nonsense” to construe Trump’s call for a special prosecutor during the debate as a banana republic-style threat to jail his political opponent.
“Director Comey has already come out and said she essentially lied to the FBI,” he noted. “Martha Stewart lied to the FBI, and she went to prison. If Hillary Clinton lied to the FBI, she ought to be prosecuted. And right now, what we have is, we have a deal struck by the Clinton campaign with the Obama administration, and I think if push comes to shove, I think Obama will pardon her before this thing gets out of hand because if they think anything is going to reveal that she has committed more criminal acts than she already has, then I think he’ll pardon her. I really do. I think this is in the works. And I don’t think the American people are really fooled by this.”
“What we’re talking about is establishing the rule of law, and the rule of law applies to everyone. That includes the former secretary of state,” Clovis declared.
Marlow asked how the Trump campaign planned to strategize around the intense media focus on his “hot mic” lewd remarks, “considering that even the Republican Party is now destroying Donald Trump over these comments.”
“Well, I think again it goes to the substance of what we have is, we have a vulnerability in the campaign,” Clovis replied, adding, “This is a vulnerability. Let’s make no mistake. Let’s be honest about this. We have a situation here, comments that were made 11 years ago. They were recorded, and they’ve come back to haunt the candidate. The candidate has apologized for those remarks.
“And I think what it goes to is the fact that they don’t want to focus on policy. They don’t want to focus on the substance of the issues because the establishments of the Republican Party and the Democrat Party writ large are deeply threatened by a populist movement in this country.
“I really think this is why you see these weak-kneed, lily-livered Republicans out here – I have other words, but I can’t use them on the radio – that go to the heart of what I think is a despicable display of cowardice on the part of the Republican Party over this whole issue.
“We don’t need to defend the comments. I think the comments were bad, and frankly, if my son had said something like that, I’d have taken him back to the woodshed. I don’t have any problems talking about that and saying that because that’s what I think of the comments.
“The other side of it is, the comments aren’t what we’re after. What we’re after is the substance of who’s going to lead this country. And that’s what we ought to be focused on because the alternative of having Hillary Clinton as President of the United States is just too terrible to contemplate.”
As for the Trump campaign’s short-term 48-hour game plan, Clovis said, “I think what you’re gonna see is, we’re gonna have comments, we’re gonna come out and talk about these issues, gonna go back on the campaign trail, gonna go back out and re-establish the momentum we have talking about the issues, and that’s what Mr. Trump is going to focus on.”
He said Trump would be “contrite,” and he would “stand up, and at every stop he’s going to say, ‘Hey, look, I made a mistake. I wasn’t running for president 11 years ago, and what I said was wrong, and it’s hurtful, and I feel bad about it. It was regrettable on my part.’ And then, let’s move on.”
“Here’s the deal: If the media are going to concentrate on these comments, I really think what we’re looking at is the American people; this will be a backlash,” Clovis predicted. “What we’re really focused on here, right now, are the people who are gonna be weak on voting for Donald Trump anyway. And what they’re trying to do is, the media are trying to solidify that vote, that they will take away or get the people who may or may not be committed to Donald Trump. Donald Trump voters are not gonna go away. They’re gonna be there, and I think they’re gonna be there in numbers that we haven’t polled yet.”
Clovis said he doesn’t know “what Speaker Ryan or the rest of the party is up to,” but guessed there are “some concerns on the establishment side on down-ballot issues.” He disputed the idea that Trump’s presidential campaign was faring poorly enough to make the Republican’s hold on the House tenuous: “My own experience in electoral politics is that this coattail thing is way overblown. People are going to go in and vote for the president. If they like their congressman or woman, they’re going to vote for them. If they like their senator, they’re going to vote for them. It doesn’t matter who’s at the top of the ticket, and all the other issues that are ongoing there. I just don’t believe that that is as strong a phenomenon as a lot of other people would like to put out.”
He went on to say, “What I do think is, there are a lot of people who are concerned about how the chess table will look, once the election is over, and whether or not you’re going to have people that you can control inside the Republican caucus. If you have a majority – and I think we’ll hold on to the House, I think the Senate, you know, it could be problematic.”
“At the same time,” he asserted, “we see most of the senators are running strong races, and it looks like we’re going to hold the Senate in the Republican Party. So I think what a lot of this is about is what the chess table’s going to look like when it’s over, win or lose. If Trump wins, that covers up a lot of quirks and blemishes. If he doesn’t win, then I think the Republican Party is going to retrench and double down. I think you’re going to see an even stronger divide between the conservative and populist movement in the Republican Party, and the establishment/big government side.”
Clovis predicted that the “problem in the Republican Party is not going away.” He elaborated by saying that “this is something that’s going to manifest itself for the next three to five election cycles, and we’ll have to see who’s going to win. I really think this is a struggle that the Republican Party, and especially the leaders of the Republican Party, are gonna have to come to grips with because this coalition that Donald Trump’s put together is not like any we’ve ever seen.”
Clovis thought Trump’s top moment in the second debate was “the Lincoln comment that he laid on Mrs. Clinton.”
“I think the low moment really was in the first 15 or 20 minutes,” he continued. “I cannot tell you how much I deplore the TMZ style of these debates. And let me add another lowlight: I had a lot of confidence in Anderson Cooper. I have somewhat of a relationship with him, a professional relationship, and I really have always liked him. I don’t think he covered himself in glory last night, and I thought Martha Raddatz was horrible. I mean, she wanted to debate Donald Trump more than Hillary Clinton wanted to debate Donald Trump.”
“I have a hard time with these debates anyway because I don’t know why we continue to walk into this maelstrom where we know we’re going to be at least 2-on-1, 3-on-1, whatever the circumstances are,” he complained. “No Republican is ever going to catch a break from a moderator, so we already have it stacked against us. I thought last night that was very, very troubling and difficult. But it was the first 15 minutes I thought really cheated America out of a good opportunity to get on to the issues.”
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