The Refreshing Honesty of Trump's Advisers

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 8 2012 11:38 AM

The Refreshing Honesty of Trump's Advisers

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Eric F. Trump, Donald Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. at the Celebrity Apprentice All Stars Season 13 press conference

Photograph by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

BuzzFeed is out with an interesting behind-the-scenes look at one of the more puzzling subplots of the 2012 election: The outwardly confusing and awkward relationship between Mitt Romney and Donald Trump.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The full thing is worth a read, but what jumped out at us is the apparent honesty on display by Trump's friends and advisers who spoke on-background with McKay Coppins for the miniature campaign tick-tock. While the accuracy of their insights can (obviously) be questioned, the quotes offered up by the Trump-ers are something to behold, particularly when compared to the usual loosely-sourced ones provided by those associated with, shall we say, more traditional political operations.

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Here, for instance, is someone from Team Trump explaining his boss's appeal to the conservative base:

"He played very well with blue-collar-type Republicans, and the campaign saw that," said one source in Trump's camp. "If you have no education, and you work with your hands, you like him. It's like, 'Wow, if I was rich, that's how I would live!' The girls, the cars, the fancy suits. His ostentatiousness is appealing to them."

The Trump-ers didn't limit their analysis to blue-collar voters, either. Here's the advice one Trump friend gave to a top Romney adviser who was trying to figure out how to convince the reality star to endorse the former governor:

"Flattery goes a long way with Mr. Trump."

And on why Trump ultimately backed Romney over Rick Santorum:

"I think it's a rich-guy thing," Trump's friend told BuzzFeed.

On what the former governor looked liked on stage while accepting the endorsement he had sought:

"[Romney] looked about as sheepish as you can get. He looked like a guy going to a dentist's office."

On why Trump refused to disappear coming down the home stretch when it became clear to everyone else that he was doing (much) more harm than good to Romney's campaign:

Trump, meanwhile, refused to let off, believing, as one of his friends said, "in his heart of hearts that he's helping... Everywhere he goes, people are telling him, 'You’re right about this birth certificate issue!' He obviously believes it's legit."

On what Trump really thought of Romney:

"Trump was obviously always genuinely anti-Obama, but he bought into the idea that as a moderate, Romney had the best chance of beating Obama," the source said. "Given the choices he had, he thought Romney."

For comparison, here's what Team Trump sounds like on the record:

Michael Cohen, a spokesman for Trump, said there was no strain in the relationship between him and the Romney campaign and that he was seriously committed to getting the Republican elected. "I doubt the veracity of any statement that questions the strong relationship between Governor Romney and Donald Trump," Cohen said. "Trump was one of Mitt’s strongest and most popular surrogates. Mr. Trump and Romney’s senior staff communicated on a continuous basis and no such complaints alleged were ever voiced. I suspect the two will continue to maintain a relationship for years to come."

And then finally, here's one Trump source proving that despite the occasional bouts of honest insight from friends and advisers, The Donald's bluster is always present:

"Trump doesn’t like to be associated with failure," the source responded. "Trump's a winner. My guess is today he’s pretty disappointed."
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