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Ex-Trump insiders handicap the presidential sweepstakes in 2020

By David Skolnick

Friday, March 1, 2019

It only lasted about 10 minutes, but the interview I conducted earlier this week with Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, and David Bossie, Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager, was fascinating.

I wrote in Wednesday’s edition about their thoughts on what Democrats are the most formidable challengers to Trump in the 2020 campaign.

I wasn’t surprised they listed former Vice President Joe Biden and ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire.

It was interesting that Lewandowski mentioned U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat who is strongly considering a run.

Lewandowski said Biden and Brown “would have an opportunity to compete in the blue-collar states that Donald Trump won the last cycle, that [U.S. Sens.] Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris cannot compete in, specifically in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan.”

When I further asked about Brown, Lewandowski said, “My question to Sherrod Brown is: What is your signature achievement for all of the years you have served in Congress? One bill. You tell me what it’s done to make the people’s lives of Ohio better, and I don’t think anybody in the 88 counties of Ohio can answer that question.”

That ignores the fact that Brown has won four statewide races – three for the U.S. Senate and one for secretary of state – and that Trump was a political novice when he won the presidency in 2016.

Here are some other parts of the interview:

Lewandowski on U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, who is also considering a 2020 presidential bid: “He wants to be the speaker of the House. Don’t know if he’ll ever do that. I think Tim is a guy who wants to be somebody. He wants a job that he doesn’t have which is very typical for people in Washington. They always want to be something they’re not.”

On former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who lost the GOP nomination in 2016 to Trump and has been a frequent critic of the president, Lewandowski said: “A CNN pundit which is right in line with his philosophy of bigger government, more taxes, more spending. And if he decides to come to New Hampshire, I will come out of retirement just to beat John again.”

Obviously there’s no love lost there.

I asked Lewandowski and Bossie what advice they’d give those running Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Lewandowski said: “Let Trump be Trump. You’ve got such a unique candidate in President Trump who has the best instincts of anybody I’ve ever seen in politics. Embrace those instincts. Give him the opportunity to go out and talk directly to the American people. That is what has worked in the past and I think will work again.”

Trump’s accomplishments

Bossie said: “The president is going to work just as hard in 2020 as he did in the 2016 campaign. What we have to do is a better job for him communicating all of his accomplishments for the American people over his first term. That’s the difference between the two campaigns.”

He added: “In 2016, the president made a lot of promises to the American people. In 2020, he’s going to be able to talk about the promises that he made and the promises that he kept unlike all your average everyday politicians. This president has really lived up to the those promises and you’re going to see, and I think we need to spread the good word of what he has been able to do for all Americans over his first term. That’s the difference. You just need to have a good communications plan to help this president communicate that to the American people.”

Lewandowski admitted: “I think we had missed opportunities in the first two years of unified [Republican] government of getting more legislative accomplishments completed.”

In their book, “Trump’s Enemies,” Lewandowski and Bossie wrote that there were people in Trump’s administration who were working against him.

They told me they’re still there.

“You’ve seen recently with the release of the president’s schedules, several months of his schedules to try to paint him as someone not working hard when he’s the hardest working president we’ve ever had” Bossie said. “You see the anonymous author [who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in September about being part of the resistance inside the Trump administration] still works inside the White House. That has not been a change. There are people around him who were never on his team meaning from a public policy standpoint and they are working inside the White House. We have to do our jobs. It’s twice as difficult and it’s already hard enough when you have people undermining the president.”

He added: “There’s an enormous amount of folks they’ve had to clean out as well as some other White House staffers. The president has had a difficult time from Day One because it’s not been a good team around him.”

Bossie failed to say that Trump is the one responsible for putting his administration together.