Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie, co-authors of the new book Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency, discussed the extraordinary experience of the 2016 presidential race on Tuesday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon, himself a veteran of the Trump campaign.
“The reason Dave and I wrote this book together is because the mainstream media wants to have a narrative which is not truthful about what the candidate did, what the candidate saw, and where this presidency is going,” Lewandowski explained.
“Dave and I are two insiders who had the privilege of being there from Day One, all the way through the very end, to talk about Donald Trump the man and what he saw, and to set the narrative straight that anybody who thinks that it was their role or responsibility to get the president elected is just not truthful. This was Donald Trump. It was 100 percent, 99.9 percent Donald Trump and .1 percent everybody else,” he declared.
“What Donald Trump saw, he had been talking about for 30 years,” Lewandowski said. “We were getting killed on trade deals. Our deficit was out of control. Congress was a failure. 30 years of broken promises in Washington. Immigration had to change the way it was. He took those ideas and he brought them to the American people.”
“You remember on that big, beautiful escalator ride on June 16th of 2015, the mainstream media said, ‘He’s going to come down and say he’s not running for office. He’s not really a candidate. He’ll never file the paperwork.’ Time and time and time again, candidate Trump proved the pundits wrong, tapped into what the American people saw and wanted, which was a change,” he recalled.
“This book is the inside account of that. Let Trump Be Trump is the inside stories of being on the airplane with Trump, seeing the man for who he is, the gracious nature of him and his family, and what they’ve done together. We did it because it was important to tell the world what really happened,” Lewandowski said.
“We wrote this book together because we covered the entire campaign from beginning to end,” Bossie added. “That was the exciting part about doing it together. We got a chance, from Corey and me introducing Steve Bannon years ago to President Trump. For me, that was a great thing to be able to do, and get Corey to be the first campaign manager.”
“Corey covers the first 18 months, and then I come in after Steve Bannon and then Kellyanne Conway come in to run the campaign in August. I’m there through the duration of the transition as well,” Bossie related. “Getting to work with Steve and the team at that point, for the last nine, ten weeks of the campaign, really was a tremendous ride for me personally.”
Lewandowski said President Trump is very different in person from how the mainstream media portrays him.
“I can tell you how gracious he is, how magnanimous he is, how friendly he is. But the stories in the book are what it’s really like when you’re behind the scenes with one of the most powerful men in the world, and how genuine he is, how much he cares about people’s families, how concerned he is,” Lewandowski said.
“Now, look, is he a tough boss? You bet he is,” he added. “Did he make me work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life? You bet he did. Did he tear my face off when I deserved it? Of course he did. But look, that is because he deserves and demands 100 percent perfection. I tried every day to give him that, and I failed many times.”
“We won 38 primaries and caucuses. Was it all rosy? Of course not, because if it was, I would have stayed until the end,” he pointed out. “Was there infighting? Of course there was. You want to know the real story of the Paul Manafort debacle? We put it in the book. We don’t sugarcoat it. We tell people, pick up the book and we’ll tell you how bad of a guy Paul really was. He’s in there.”
“You want to know about the ancillary players, guys who you maybe never heard of? They’re in there,” Lewandowski continued. “You want to know about the kids who worked the mail room? They’re in there. You want to know about the transition team, of which Dave was the deputy executive director? It’s in there. This is a real story about real people, real people like Corey and Dave, who helped put together something they knew was extraordinary.”
“We’re still being held accountable every day,” he noted. “Ann Coulter every day reminds us how many miles of the wall have been built. She was there pushing us to have a tough immigration policy, to make sure that we were out there. This campaign was so special. It was because we took advice and counsel from people who weren’t the establishment, and we said to hell with the establishment, we’re going to do it our own way: leaner, more efficient, more effective. It will prove to be, I think, the model moving forward.”
Bossie pointed to the Kate Steinle verdict as “an example of what President Trump ran on and won on” and a searing indictment of our “broken immigration system.”
“I can’t even imagine what the Kate Steinle family is going through these last several days,” he said. “I know the president obviously, from his public comments and from his tweets, is incredibly outraged by the embarrassment of the jury, made up of these — I don’t even know what kind of people could have been on a jury that didn’t find this person, forget first-degree or second-degree, involuntary — how do you not come back with a verdict? This guy was seven times a felon.”
“This president, he’s not an isolationist. He’s not an apologist. He’s America First,” Lewandowski said. “What he said was, it is the greatest privilege in the world to be a citizen of this great country, but we’re going to have rules. What we have is, we have a broken immigration system.”
Lewandowski recalled Matt Boyle of Breitbart News contacting him after Kate Steinle’s murder and saying, “Corey, you have to understand, this is a beautiful girl who was on a pier walking, and this animal shot her in cold blood in her father’s arms.”
“I was devastated when I heard that,” he recalled:
It has happened so many times. Donald Trump understood. We went out to California. We met with Jamiel Shaw, whose son was shot in the face by an illegal immigrant on his stoop in California as he was about to go and become a very successful college football player. What the president said is, “This is wrong.” What we know under the Obama administration was the great men and women who serve in Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they were stopped from doing their job in the face of political correctness.
“We went to Laredo, Texas, Steve, and I’ll tell you what: he was candidate Trump at the time, he wasn’t the Republican nominee, he had no higher ranking than you or I did, and they treated him the way he deserved to be,” Lewandowski told Bannon. “It was a full presidential motorcade. They shut the border down.”
“He saw first-hand what was taking place. Those people in Laredo, Texas begged for help. He made a promise, he made a pledge, and he’s fulfilling that. He said, ‘If you elect me, I will give you the tools to be successful so that you can protect American citizens from illegals coming across this border.’ That’s what he’s doing because it’s the right thing to do,” Lewandowski said of President Trump.
“His base conservative instincts are the best I’ve ever seen and been around,” Bossie agreed. “He understands the movement. He understands what is going on in the country before the mainstream media even gets it. He already understands what’s going on. That is so important. It’s what drove our campaign, really.”
“If you remember, all these other clowns in the Republican primary field were trying to one-up him all the time,” said Lewandowski. “We had one of the candidates say, ‘I’m going to build a wall on the northern border,’ because they thought that was going to be an issue.” He continued:
All these guys said, “He cannot be presidential so he must leave the race immediately!” And all these guys faded out because you know what? They’re typical politicians. Some of them are very fine people, very capable people, but they all thought that running down the middle — you know how many times I heard, “Jeb Bush is a little rusty because he hasn’t run for office in eight years, and he’s got a $150 million Super PAC.” He wasn’t rusty. He was boring as hell! He was low energy. You know how many times Donald Trump had run for office before that? Exactly zero. So if Jeb was rusty after eight years, Donald Trump had never run, so he was really, really, really rusty. He had a lot of patina after 70 years of not running for office.
“What the American people said was, ‘We don’t want a politician. We don’t want someone who is going to lie to us and be beholden to the special interests.’ A big part of Trump’s populism was funding his own campaign in the primary — not being beholden, not having to kowtow to those Republican donors, not having come through the Republican establishment that has destroyed, in many cases, everything that we have wanted as conservatives since the Reagan Revolution. Trump is so much more like Reagan than anybody else because he’s the outsider,” he contended.
“In order to be successful in public policy, you have to have victories,” Bossie pointed out. “I believe that the tax reform package that was just brought forward, that has passed through the House and Senate, it has got some work to do in the conference committee, but that is going to be the first — if you can believe this, after eleven months in office — is going to be his first major legislative victory.”
“Because the broken status quo in Washington — the Swamp, as the president calls it — the Swamp, which is trying to suck him in, he is continuing to break. That is why you see these fights. That is why you see the Republicans and Democrats against him, the establishment and this broken status quo as I keep calling it because that’s what it is. We need it changed, and that’s what Donald Trump is: he’s a change agent. He’s somebody that came to Washington and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to flip over a couple of desks, and kick in a couple of doors, and get people’s attention.’ That scared everybody,” he said.
“We want to win. We want to succeed on the right policies. That’s what this president has prioritized,” Bossie said.
Lewandowski said it was important to have a president “who is not apologetic to be an American.”
“For eight years we had a president that wanted to be a globalist, that wanted to go out and make sure that the people of Germany and Great Britain and every other country were happy,” he said. Lewandowski added:
That’s not what this president is about. You know what the president says? He says, “I’m elected the president of these United States. I’m going to make sure we’re number one. We’re not going to apologize for being the greatest and most powerful nation in the world. And let me tell you something, we’re going to re-look at our global marketplace, and if we have an unfair trade deal we’re going to renegotiate because for the last eight years those other countries have eaten our lunch every day because we have had stupid people negotiating for us. It’s time to put America first.”
Lewandowski said one surprising revelation in Let Trump Be Trump is the closeness of the president’s campaign team, “how small it really was, how genuine we were as a singular focused unit.”
“We took a bunch of people, we called it the Island of Misfit Toys because we were all the rejects, everybody said we weren’t capable of doing this, and we came together as one group for a singular focus, which was just to get Donald Trump elected,” he explained.
“People don’t give any of us the credit, with all due respect, of how small that team was. Hillary Clinton had 900 people in her Brooklyn office. We left the campaign for 73 days, we went on the road, and we had two 23-year-old kids running the New York shop. We had Cassidy and Campbell, who neither one of them had been involved in politics,” he recalled.
“We had a kid by the name of Johnny, who was a football star. He walked into the office and said, ‘Hey, I want to work for you guys for free.’ We said, ‘Okay, I guess you’re hired.’ That’s how the team came together. These people all just put their personalities aside, their lives aside, and said, ‘We want to help Donald Trump become the next president’ because they were so vested. That story does not get enough credit for how small that team was,” Lewandowski declared.
Bossie said the book seeks to convey the “flavor” of working for Trump’s extraordinary campaign. As it turned out, a great deal of that flavor came from special sauce, sesame seed buns, and French fries.
“We lived on basically four food groups, and that was McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Oreo, and Vanilla Fingers,” he chuckled. “That was the extent of what we did. For guys like Steve and myself, it was hard to be on the plane because, eating that stuff every day, the boss, the President of the United States, he wants to go to the next thing. He wants to be on the road, move, move, move, next thing, next event. He demanded because of the schedule that we had to eat fast food every day, every meal, even the Secret Service agents. That’s what the remarkable thing was. They got sick of it, to be honest with you.”
Lewandowski recalled Trump’s first debate as a vital moment for the campaign and a pivotal moment for Republican voters, although the behind-the-scenes story was not what most listeners might have expected.
“You know what we did right before the debate? While every other campaign is cramming and making sure that their boss is ready, we were hanging out with Aerosmith. How cool is that?” he revealed with a laugh. “They pull up in a tour bus — like, Aerosmith, okay? I said, hey, boss, Aerosmith is here. He said, ‘Bring the fellas in. Hey, I love you guys.’ So we hang out with Aerosmith for an hour listening to their stories. We get in the car, we drive over to the first presidential debate, and I said, ‘Are you ready?’ He says, ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’”
“He walks down and stands dead center stage,” Lewandowski continued. “You guys don’t remember this — the first question at the debate was not from Megyn Kelly. It was actually from Brett Baier. It was a bullshit question. Here’s what he said: ‘Please raise your hand if you will not pledge to support the Republican nominee.’”
“And Trump, dead center, looks to his left — bunch of cowards that never raise their hands — looks to his right, and he puts his hand up. He says, ‘Nope.’ And they said, ‘Sir, are you saying if you’re not the Republican nominee, you will not support them?’ He says, ‘That’s right.’ He was the only guy who was honest enough in front of the American people. All these other jamokes up on the stage, you know what? They all said, ‘Well, we can’t support Trump, we’re going to rescind our endorsement.’ It was all crap,” he said.
“And then the next question was Megyn Kelly. And he said, ‘Only Rosie. Only Rosie.’ He is so fast, so sharp, so cunning, so quick. That’s what he doesn’t get credit for. And you know what the American people saw? A fighter. They’re so sick of an apologist. They want a fighter,” Lewandowski stressed.
“Here’s the amazing thing,” he continued. “The three bozos preparing Trump for the debate, I happen to be one of them, and we’re on the flight out to Cleveland. We cut it a little bit close. We’re literally wheels-down 45 minutes before the debate, and we have to go see Aerosmith, right? I get a briefing book and I bring it up to the candidate. We’re on the plane, and I hand him this big giant 3-ring binder. It’s got all these papers in it. He looks at me and he says, ‘Corey?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir?’ He said, ‘Do I own a paper company?’ I said, ‘I don’t think so.’ He goes, ‘Then what the hell is all this paper? I can’t read this!’”
“He and I, literally, he’s about to go onstage with 50 million people watching, the biggest presidential primary debate in the history of the country, and he says: ‘Let’s just talk,’” Lewandowski recalled with astonishment.
“By the way, I had never done this before,” he added. “The greatest candidate, the smartest guy to go into an arena that is going to be watched by 50 million people, dead center stage, all the eyes on Trump — a man who’s never debated publicly in his life, against a Princeton winner of national debate championships and professional politicians his whole life, and he destroyed them.”
Bossie said Let Trump Be Trump is filled with stories of the president “just being cunning, and smart, and understanding, and getting the pulse of what’s going on long before anybody else does.”
“We really took great pride in letting Trump be Trump,” he said. “One of the things you’ve got to remember is that even though Mr. Trump, then-candidate Trump, had debated all these different Republicans in the primaries, it never got down to the one-on-one debate. When he stepped foot onstage with Hillary Clinton, that was the first time he was ever going to debate anyone one-on-one. It was going to be a completely new experience for him. We took great time to get him as prepared as possible.”
Lewandowski said the boldness Trump displayed as a candidate has continued into his presidency, particularly in the area of foreign policy, where he informed the United Nations “we’re not paying the tab anymore.”
“If other countries aren’t picking up the tab, we’re willing to walk away. He is so bold, he’s telling other countries we’re not going to pay for your national security anymore. If you’re not willing to put money in at greater than half a percent of your GDP, then guess what? We’re not the protectors of the world anymore. This is what the left cannot stand. They all said he would never do it, no one would ever do this, and all of a sudden the U.N. is re-looking at their system,” he said.
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