Hot Scoop: Even Mitt Couldn’t Stand Donald Trump
The first tell-all expose from the Romney campaign emerged yesterday. In it, McKay Coppins from Buzzfeed revealed that like most of America, Mitt Romney’s campaign finds Donald Trump irritating. According to Coppins:
Several of the campaign staffers in Boston had grown so sick of Trump’s demands that they refused to deal with him anymore.
The task of keeping him happy, then, fell mainly to campaign press secretary Andrea Saul, a natural schmoozer with a disarming Georgia accent and an inordinate tolerance for BS. Trump’s entourage called campaign headquarters constantly, eagerly passing along strategy ideas from their boss, and the calls were always patched through to Saul’s office. Her desk became littered with Trump aides’ business cards, and post-it notes reminding her to call them back. (Saul did not respond to BuzzFeed’s request for comment.)
The surprise of Coppins’ story is that this irritation didn’t erupt in the autumn, when Trump was loudly proclaiming his doubts about President Obama’s college records to anyone who would listen. This was before Trump even endorsed Romney at the beginning of February. By the general election, the situation, as Coppins described was:
But even after all the hassle, Romney was extremely reluctant to publicly cut ties with Trump. Some in the campaign worried it would draw unnecessary attention to an episode they’d rather be forgotten in the general election, while others thought Trump might turn his powers of provocation on Romney if they snubbed him — drawing the ire of that elusive “base.”
So Trump barreled along toward Election Day, ostensibly supporting Romney but ultimately unwilling to do what was necessary to get him elected (in this case, laying low and keeping his mouth shut). He used Romney’s candidacy as a vehicle to rail against the president he hated, and when he was feeling generous, he occasionally paid lip service to the Republican nominee.
The real question is why Romney stooped so low as to court Trump in the first place. Donald Trump may be a rich developer and reality television star but he is also universally acknowledged to be a buffoon. Romney got Trump’s endorsement at a time when his primary campaign was still on unsteady ground—only two days after beating back Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary. At the time, Gingrich was considered a favorite for Trump’s endorsement and it helped swing enough momentum in the Republican primary for Romney to finally put Gingrich away. (Although it took two months for Romney to best Rick Santorum).
Trump’s endorsement proved an albatross for Romney. Even though it provided a momentary boost in the GOP primary, the former Massachusetts governor paid a price for Trump’s backing until Election Day–as the media swarm every time The Donald clears his throat. Every time Trump made a crass play for publicity or a crude comment, it reflected badly on Romney (and was great copy for journalists). It didn’t cost him the election (after all, Trump’s far too an insignificant figure to influence many voters) but for a candidate already in a hard-fought election, Trump was just one more irritation that Romney didn’t need.
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