tv Inside the Trump Campaign CSPAN March 10, 2017 11:34am-12:13pm EST
>> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was greater as a public service by america's cable-television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> former trump presidential campaign manager corey lewandowski recently sat down for discussion at the new hampshire institute of politics where he offered his insights into president trump's white house and what it took to get there. he shared stories from inside the presidential campaign. this is just over one hour. >> good evening. thank you all for being here. on behalf of the faculty, staff and student at financial institute of politics i'd like to welcome you. thank you for joining us. my name is -- mr. ambassador.
the institutes mission is to educate, engage and inform citizens to actively participate in cyclical and political life of the committee. strengthen both democracy and discourse. we have been fortunate to welcome many past presidential confidants. tonight speaker is our first for 45. he served as chief political advisor and campaign manager for donald trump from the escalator ride to the primary victory in june. a native of nearby lowell and a graduate of new mass, corey began his career as a political staffer on capitol hill at the status and our campaigns across the country. he worked for republican national committee for a brief time, spent time in lobbying the new england and with the coke brothers at american for prosperity. tonight he will join neil levesque, executive director for a wide range of conversation to do discussed not on the 2016 election and their new hampshire
primary victory but president trump's style, character and ability to deliver promises made in the campaign. it's an honor to have somebody so connected to the white house and the site in new hampshire and we're honored to have corey and mr. neil levesque here for what should be a terrific conversation. so welcome. [applause] >> thank you. >> good to be home. >> i think you spent more time at financial institute of politics and probably in other place but top -- trump tower nicus. i think my wife can attest to that. as we get started i just want to say, the question, the apparent question which is how does sort of a kid from the wrong side of the tracks brought up by a single mother go on to sort of vantage and create this winning campaign for president? >> you wake up and you don't
know. you work hard, which i think is a value that was instilled in me very young. when they tell you you can't do something, you don't listen to them. when they say you'll never be successful, you disregard that. and i think at some level maybe if it's a bit of a chip on your shoulder to say yeah, i can do that. just because i think ivy league school our best grades doesn't mean you can't substitute hard work. i've been so very fortunate and the other part is, you take chances in life. i had a great job with americans for prosperity. that job wasn't going to go anywhere but i was asked to go meet with then donald trump, ultimately candidate trump but now president trump. took a job that my friends, my
colleagues, will be so my family thought would never go anywhere. but sometimes you have to take a chance to be successful and i've been lucky. >> did you think you're going to run a campaign for president? from new hampshire we had this type of exposure that you would ever take this kind of job? >> no. it was never my goal to a presidential campaign. it wasn't, some people that's a lifelong goal and i then races at the local level, state level, congressional, gubernatorial senate. but campaigns are topic they're tough on the people do that as a family. they are so cyclical. if you win you might have a job for a few years but if you lose your out of work. now i've got a family and its much much more difficult is going to go into camping thinking hey, if i lose what do i do for the next two years or four years? it was never ever michael to go run a presidential campaign and
i'm so lucky to have this opportunity to have a front row seat at history for the last two years. >> trump invites you up to trump tower, sit you down. he hires you on the spot. what was that like after that? had a day off since? >> it was so surreal. like mr. trump is so magnanimous, he is so good when you go to meeting. he so embracing picky brings you in close and when i went to go to trump tower back in january 2015 i didn't even know what i was going. a friend of mine said would you come to new york with me to see donald trump? who doesn't want to go there? sure. i drove to new york and waited. the night before my friend called me up and said i can make it tomorrow, you are on your own. i don't even know what i'm doing. i'm just going. i guess i'll go see donald trump. so i went there and i waited around, and walked into the 26th floor of his office.
he was sitting behind his desk. the first thing he said was look at you. you've got a good look. i said okay. i thought i was pretty cool, right? he asked me about a couple of people who i guess it interview for the job. do you know johnny and billy and bobby? i know those guys. are they any good? they are pretty good. do you think you're better than them? i do. do you know new hampshire? yes, i do. he said okay. do you want to run my campaign for president? are you kidding me? he's running for president. he said to me very candidly, he said, what do you think the odds of me running for president -- what you think of the odds of running and winning are? >> ice at 5%. he looked at me to 10%. let's meet in the middle, 7.5. done. that's how we started. he shook my hand. he stood up and he said you were hired. i had a job and he did tell my wife. i was sitting to having this conversation with doctor and he said you're hired. élan, get out.
he said i'll see you on monday. you work for me now. i left his office at a think i called my wife and i said i think i just took a new job in new york. >> how much management was this or was it more containment? he sings like the person you don't put a plan together and then say this is what you're going to say today. was it more like you would go out and will these things out at these rallies and you have to react for what was it like? >> it was amazing. a very small group of us and started the campaign together. five of us. >> who were the five? >> so we hired george to do all of our advanced work, a great advance guy. michael glass with her deputy. dan did social me and me. the whole team. that was the whole presidential team. no exaggeration. we hired chuck in iowa and that in new hampshire and to that status south carolina. that was the entire presidential
campaign. could it put them in a minivan, right? but the bond that those like the blood because they had one single focus which was to make donald trump the next president of the united states was unbelievable. during that period it's like a small company, there were no leaks. nobody leaking stories because the there was no one to leak stories two. it would just five of us. the group was very cohesive. what we knew in that time was when we were exceptionally successful. went on to iowa, a state were donald trump wasn't supposed to compete let alone too well and he finished second. he lost one electoral vote to ted cruz, ted got eight, we got seven. came to new hampshire and one by 27. >> what was that night like? >> look, let me tell you something. when you work for donald trump, winning solve problems, okay? look, there was a lot of pressure after i would. i remember it very well because
we had a small office on granite street. i told this story. it's important to remind people. we left iowa that night and we finished in second place which was a win for basically every other candidate because marco rubio judge was finished third, second, first, going. donald trump's strategy was when every state. he said i want to win all 50. finished second in iowa. long flight home. came to new hampshire. he was not in a very good mood. i was working at the office in manchester. he went up and did a couple of events and then it was a wednesday after. i said i need to speak with you. i said, here's where your numbers are. you are starting to fall. we had a pretty good lead in new hampshire and if you don't start to outline what your vision is for america and just want to complain about the results and i will come you will be a candidate who also ran for president one day.
and with that he literally turned around. he went up to manchester police, did a shift change that day. saw one of the officers which is come out of the hospital, went and did a town hall in manchester with cnn. and then thursday, friday, saturday, sunday, positive positive. i started knocking on doors in a blizzard speed the strategy was let trump be trump. go to these rallies. the rallies in tweets are the two things that differentiate him from other campaigns. you would let them go to a rally but there wasn't any preconceived notion. i think will hit this issue today or it was just, just go do it? >> sometimes we had a plan. sometimes we talked about what we want to talk about. i can think specifically on december 7th of 2015 we talked about rolling and a muslim ban. very controversial as we did that but we did on a battleship in south carolina. many times we knew with the
basic premise of the speech is going to be. we would say if you talk about the snake tonight, these different narratives that he would roll into his speeches. i used to say let trump be trump. i always appoint a donald trump to a great racehorse that you have to let them run. he's the american pharaoh of american politics. it's not my job to put a bridle on it and say in 40 years you had unveiled success in the business world and the television world and every other thing else and guess what, i'm going to say what to do now. that's not my job. my job is to tell him we have to be careful on this one. that's what i tried to do. he has had his finger on the pulse of the american people if you go back and look at the interviews he did with oprah winfrey back in 1989 comp exacts a messaging he said when he ran for president in 2015-2016. he fundamentally understood and
understand what's wrong with the country and wants to change it. >> isn't it hard to do that when you're turning on television, all the campaign managers, all the analysts are saying you got to put a bridle on this guy. he needs to apologize, you need to do this you are saying let him do it. >> to do what the press didn't see what the american people saw? they want a change. i told the story, when up to new hampshire one day for the summer of 2015. right after we announced the campaign. we took a small plane and landed, and in the pentatonic i get off the plane i had 15 phone messages from the same number. i said that this can't be good. i listened to them it was this police officer and he said we have a problem. we were hoping to 150 people in the vfw hall that night. it's a friday night. nobody was theirs was trying to give us a heads up. he called up and said we've got
to send a cruiser to come up and get you guys to surprised secret service protection because whistling people with closed the road. i said excuse me? we pulled into this facility. there's anything like it in my life. there were 120 degrees inside, literally people stand on the roof of this build. we pulled in with these two black suvs. people came to the car and started shaking cars. it's like a true celebrity, like a rock concert celebrity. they shook the car and donald trump winning and gave a speech. as we left we got in the suvs and the people outside, couldn't fit in the building. people start chasing the course as we left the parking lot. i said there something special going on. something different than nobody else sees. people would wait in line, my hometown blue-collar town would wait in line for eight hours in a blizzard in january the 2016 to see donald trump speak. i sought time and time again. what the media failed to
understand was if you wait in line to see someone for eight hours in a blizzard, you are going to support them. >> so on the mccain day, the day he said what he said about john mccain, that must have been a big low. did that take you off again and maybe question whether not you should be letting trump be trump? >> that was a tough day. we were in iowa, and it was still early in the campaign and went out to give a speech and the plan was we give a speech, to press conference and with two other events and then we would fly back. landed on the plane, addictive facility. he doesn't meet and greet, as a speech with frank luntz, gets up and i'm waiting for them basically right at the door and he says pretty good? i said can i speak you for a second? he's a pretty good speech? i said can i speak to in this greenroom? i close the door and this is where you to understand donald
trump. type in a long time to understand and i been on the campaign. i said you just said john mccain wasn't a war hero. he spent a number of years in the prison camp on behalf of our country. i think we need to apologize. he said no. see, this is a difference. john mccain hasn't done enough for our veterans and with people dying in phoenix arizona waiting in line. veterans deserve better and john mccain hasn't done enough. i said you don't understand what you just said, this campaign is going to be over. he said let's go downstairs and have a press coverage. he held a 28 minute press conference. we leave the facility get back on the plane and a member i called my wife and said guess what? the campaign is over. going to be a quick one. all my friends were -- that was a sunday show. donald trump is right.
john mccain hasn't done enough. there were people who you know who became part of this campaign, friends of the president who would call me on that particular study. we flew up to new jersey when we landed. there were just four of us in the real and, friends, close friend of the president, candidate trump is that you need to apologize. you cannot survive this. the best minds in the political space that you cannot -- he said i'm going to double down because i will make sure veterans get what they want. he's a fighter and is good fight for what he believes in. spirit does he ever apologize in public? >> he apologized after -- >> when he doubles down. >> he's a genuine fighter. for his entire life, i know you don't believe this, he was told he couldn't do things. you can't go and built in new york. that's what his father would tell you. that's for different group of people. we are good in brooklyn but manhattan is different. don't do that.
here such tenacity, such an ability to move people when he puts his mind to it. i think it's hard to apologize because he is so strong in what his beliefs are that he was paid one to believe the way he does. >> you mentioned earlier that he was at one point although bit of a bad mood. describe what he is like. there are different characteristics when someone is in a really bad mood, bill clinton had a terrible temper apparently and other candidates and presidents have and you spent all his time with someone in a small campaign jet or a bus or what have you and the tempers flare. to know what it's like when he gets upset. >> you get to know somebody when you spent so much on as i did with it. 18 hours a day seven days a week for 18 months. airplane alone with the 1400 hours on the plane. 1400 hours. so about 60 days straight just be on the airplane.
spent a nice playing though spec that's a long time on any airplane. we are the best plane and the worst food. mcdonald's, burger king. if we were lucky, chick-fil-a, not too often. but you get to know somebody get to understand when donald trump is angry about something it's because traditionally the staff has failed to deliver on what his expectations were. he took it very personally. he wasn't angry after losing or coming in second place in iowa. he was disappointed. that falls on the as the campaign manager to say i didn't do my job well enough. i did know what else i could of been. looking back of course she could have done things different. but when he yelled at me or was more disappointed in me in the campaign, i took a very personally because i given so much to be part of it. but you have to understand, you are with someone, a particular candidate running at the highest of the highs. the biggest things that evident
in her life running for president ignited states of america, becoming the president, everything else is poultry. doesn't matter, is secondary. those days like wisconsin, they were tough. days when we lost elections, they were tough, real-time spin you are known for driving a tight ship. during campaign to have all a bit of an edge sometimes. you like things on time. is that kind of a persona you take on during those campaigns? you seem to rather enjoy the post campaign. but you have a low bit of a general patent persona. >> i run hot as people would say. but do you know what it is? what i told our staff, and what i would always tell our staff is every single day done to get up and give us his very best and if we're not willing to do that, we shouldn't be. this is a man who would work 18 to 20 hours a day without blinking.
once he ever say why am i going to mobile alabama in august of speech to 35,000 people in football season? never questioned. just said i'm going to go because it's what you told me to do. it was an amazing amount of responsibility to dictate is kind of like that without ever any questions. what i did never told for, what i would never ever told for was for some staff as they i was tired. i don't buy that. i expected we will meet a deadline, you can be on time and deadlines are there for a reason and we got donald trump on the ballot. not a team of attorneys. two people. i said you can't do it. of course we can do it. we always did more with less because we push people the hardest. >> on that same note are you happy with his staff now? seems to be a lot of leaks? there certainly some mistakes in the beginning of the presidency and now you're watching it, some of this on tv.
you in connection with the president, but are you disappointed? what's your feelings of his staff right now? >> there's a couple different components. a big piece, at the end of the presidential campaign where most campaigns at thousands of people and the president says go fill out all these jobs in government, to reward these people, we had 200 people in the whole campaign. that's a decent sized u.s. senate race in some places. >> and the clinton campaign had what, 800? >> in the brooklyn office the 800 people let alone what they had in other states. at the beginning part of the administration is have a bunch of people who either didn't work on the campaign have a desire to come back to federal government work. or have a different agenda. it's not the president agenda because they don't know the president. and so i think when it comes to national security policy, i
think he is a somewhat of a very best teams possible with general kellyanne general mattis, h. r. mcmaster. that two of the generals is very, very strong, i'm very confident in that but it is obligation of the staff to push back on the present if they don't think he is either saying or doing the right thing and the people that he has around him right now just don't have that type of experience and longevity with him in some instances to do that. and i really see the president as a person understands two different types of staffers and i mean this in the best possible sense. the people who are the presidents contemporaries, people will achieve a massive amount of wealth or success in their own right, general mattis, general kelly, steven mnuchin, dr. carson, very wealthy in the own right, and then you have staff. u.s. death or literally nuts and bolts of running the day-to-day
operation -- and then you have staff who are literally -- much less likely in my opinion to be able to tell the president difficult things because they don't have a relationship or he doesn't see them as contemporaries. it's a deposition and had to be willing sometimes to have those tough conversations. i had a lot of tough conversation with the president. all you can do is make me go back to new hampshire. i have a pretty good life in new hampshire. >> what about steve miller? >> steve is a true ideologue. he's a person i are back in january 2016 to join the campaign. he's a big picture thinker. he truly fundamentally believes the government should be smaller, more efficient, leaner. and he is someone who i think and i don't speak for steve miller but who could blaze in putting americans first. i know that sounds pejorative if you're from some of the country. steve is not an isolationist but
he said it's time to put american people first. >> you mention steve bannon. steve bannon seems to be upgraded to put enemy because he pride is a speak that much with exception cpac. tony about steve bannon. he's been around since even before you were around, right? >> steve and the president had a long relationship. steve is someone who is exceptionally brilliant. most people don't give them the credit that he deserved candidly. navy officer, went to goldman sachs, made a fortune, owned a small piece of something called seinfeld. maybe you've heard of it. steve has been very, very well. then he went off and worked in hollywood and he started with andrew breitbart who was a visionary, joint that and build breitbart into what it is today. steve has been advising, counseling mr. trump, candidate trump and president trump for a long time. i think you have in steve bannon
someone who the president understands they share a very similar philosophy. that's why steve and the present at such a bond, because that relationship has been long and developed and the fundamentally agree on most of the issues. >> he gets criticized for being everything from being a racist right on through. so does the president. how does that make you feel when this is a person, trump, that you spent a lot of time with, what is your opinion of some of that? these are pretty divisive statements, not that is not then divisive candidate, but how does it make you feel when you know someone that well and this is the political reaction to what they're saying about him? >> it bothers me because they have never done their due diligence, the mainstream media, to actually understand donald trump not that he hasn't been accessible.
from the time he launched his presidential campaign until the time it ended, he did 700 interviews with "the new york times." 700 different times he spoke to "the new york times" in a part of time. it's unprecedented. here's a quick story. one day this reporter calls me and i never spoken to before and we're on the airplane and about to take off and she said question i like to ask mr. come and i said what's your question? he sitting right in front of me. i said mr. trump, she is a question. he said let have the phone. gets on the phone and answers the question. she said ivan covering hillary clinton for four years and have never spoken to her in my life. he's that accessible to the media. so when people make statements about him that says he does respect women until you look at the number of women who are executives in his corporation. he doesn't respect my north and they look at all the minorities is important throughout the years, tens of thousands. he doesn't respect jewish people
accept his daughter and his grandchildren are jewish. whatever maybe it's an much easier to sell to say the things than what the history tells us. >> you mentioned "the new york times." i wish it mentioned the union leader. the headline this week coverage may eclipse that of any single human being and they're talking of course donald trump. now we have this site with the media. do you think that's more something that is used as a vehicle to have an inning after that the american public, that he can basically fence with or is this more of a real feeling that he is being unfairly targeted by the immediate and he is reacting to that? >> i think it could be a little bit of both. i think the media has been pejorative and sometimes very unfair to the president. it's amazing speed it but haven't they been unfair to most
president? >> when the media have been unfair, let me give an example can i times magazine reporter came into the office and he said the bus of martin luther king jr. and remove any twitter out right away. never contacted him when and why does. he's a funny guy. he sent out 3000 media outlets, decried the present for being a racist because removed the bust of martin luther king jr. do you know what the fact was? it was never touched. it was skinny behind the person who standing there. it would've taken three seconds to ask the white house, and the problem is the first story is one think it's reported. ..
the reagan congress all of them he said he would take a special liking to the media. they have a have a hard time defending themselves. at the new tactic at the new tactic the media can talk about themselves. they only care about themselves. they're so enraged that the president is to come to the white house correspondent that's all they want to talk about. in the campaign promises he made out. so every day that they talk about themselves as everyday that they are losing. if you look at the last fox paul when the president gives information is accurate they believe that it's accurate. the center did a story after the election 97 percent of the
respondents said we did not allow the medias bias to impact our vote. it wasn't that long ago you and i can remember this the world got their news from three people at 6:30. the same three anchors delivered the news. and the difference now is everyone is so quick to make the news for clicks or some script is or whatever it may be. that's what drives them. you mentioned pulling. the thing that fascinates most of us is how the polling was off most of us would have predicted that hillary clinton was going to win this by a landslide i think most people believe that your campaign and the trump campaign and a very small victory party and a very small location in new york versus hers.
were the polls that the campaign have where those doing internals where they internals on the market. what was a sense. it seems like everybody including the trump campaign was surprised. >> we looked at a couple different factors coming into it. the absentee ballot was the primary indicator. it has a huge hispanic population if they were going to break when they historically do. it is a very good number for republicans. in florida the voters were exceptionally high. we thought we would be in trouble in florida. we were going in on election day down done but 225,000 votes. about 300,000 votes going in on election day.
we felt pretty good in north carolina. all numbers started to change when we knew we would win ohio. in the clinton campaign also knew that they cut it when any of those the states. wisconsin, pennsylvania, michigan they were very concerned about the reason being is that they took them for granted. it wasn't until the last ten days. look selfishly. i wanted that way. it had been very good to us. we at a rally there. that's can be a. he will not stop working at 8:00. give to make gift to make this like the midnight rally.
i know this guy please only get the last stop. he came here and it is a massive blowout. he got on a plane and went to michigan. i went like this. thrown together last minute. he made it back at 330 in the morning. we now if we could just make a turnout model they are not been engaged in the election process. they did not connect with the african-american community. that title for nominee of a major party. he won across the board.
nobody else saw. i was there with cnn. they were laughing at us at five clock in the afternoon. you know why i knew is i know numbers. the 40 bel wetter counties. no, 11:0012:00 we won. speaking of new hampshire you know the subject of voter fraud comes up. he brings it up quite often. there was a union leader straight leslie about how many people showed up. any form of idaho. what do you think about all of that. you can have said that you don't necessarily think there is widespread voter fraud elaborate more about what you
think about the voter fraud in new hampshire if you think there is any. the way the law is written unfortunately it's not voter fraud but if i feel like today even though i live in massachusetts i'm an academy new hampshire and campaign and then i feel like i'm going to be a new hampshire resident. i'm not going to vote new hampshire. it's perfectly legal. has a problem with the system. if you're not paying taxes here if you're not a resident here here is how close these elections are. they lost by 2100 votes. this is an a statewide election. it's perfectly legal. joe biden the vice president of the united states. they decide to register as a new hampshire resident does
not make you a new hampshire resident. now is that legal voter fraud. no it's not legal voter fraud but you can't have it. it has to be a criteria. maybe they have an extra 30 days before. these poor votes had decided the outcome of the presidential election. in 2000 if he did not win new hampshire he would not had been elected president of the united states. is a difference here. what is a difference with new hampshire. we think we see it as were here all the time.
they understand the great privilege that they have is so amazing to me that my friends on this campaign are here and next time they will be on the other side of the campaign. these are the chairman and cochairman. the next american to support someone else. i don't take it personal. i'm privileged that they stay involved and has mobile this in their home. we ask the people the tough questions. people take it so seriously here and they need too. it's an obligation that nobody else has. on that note you are a new hampshire guy. you're very eloquent eva masters degree in politics so i think a lot of people in
politics who are on the back of the room many times wish that they were in the front of the room would you ever consider running for office in new hampshire. >> that's not for me. i mean that in the best possible sense. i've have my share of the spotlight. been very fortunate to be on multiple tv shows and have the privilege to do a sunday shows. it is a great privilege. but you know i know i know i could be more effective by helping someone else be the best they can be. >> we are to take some questions from the audience with these two microphones anybody that wants to ask questions if you line up and start this and one question makes the question but before we get there. you cae