November 23, 2016
Callista and I had the opportunity to visit with President-elect Trump at his office in the Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday.
We were delighted to have the chance to congratulate the President-elect and share ideas with a friend who we both believe will become a great president.
Getting to Trump Tower is a project in its own right. Demonstrators led the New York City Police to close off the street near the entrance and set up various checkpoints.
Callista and I did not realize that C-SPAN had a live camera capturing every step in and out of the Trump Tower elevators. We waved to the press corps and photographers while waiting for the elevator but had no idea we were on live TV.
Arriving 30 minutes ahead of schedule, we went straight to the President-elect’s office on the 26th floor. I have been there several times over the years. The biggest change was the number of security agents present from the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security.
The President-elect was seeing people on a very tight schedule. As we arrived, his senior staff was just leaving his office. While we waited, we visited with former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams. Together we looked out over the changing leaves of Central Park — a beautiful view!
When the President-elect was ready, we were invited into his office. He was comfortably seated behind his desk, greeted us warmly, and asked us to sit down. To our right was a wall full of his framed magazine covers. His earliest covers are over 35 years old and capture his growth as a leader. It was very impressive!
To our left was his famous chair from The Apprentice. This TV show was number one for four years and on the air for 13 years. The Apprentice taught Trump a lot about television and audiences. Because the elite media and elite political consultants never watched The Apprentice, they failed to understand how good he was on television and how much he understood the working Americans who made his show so successful. Callista was aware of the chair because she had just watched Harvey Levin’s special, OBJECTified: Donald Trump, on Fox News.
During our time with the President-elect we reminisced about the presidential campaign. Callista and I first discussed a possible run with him back in January of 2015 at the Marriott in Des Moines, Iowa. We watched his campaign develop from the very beginning. It was an amazing 22 months, and he earned the presidency by defeating 16 GOP rivals, Clinton’s billion-dollar campaign, and the news media.
Reince Priebus, the incoming White House Chief of Staff and current Republican National Committee Chairman, joined us in our meeting with the President-elect. He is the most important RNC Chairman since Mark Hanna in 1896. Priebus built a machine that included 7500 paid field operatives. It was the synergistic effect of Trump’s social media and rally-based campaign combined with the RNC’s field campaign that made a Trump victory possible. It is vital that the RNC continues to grow and improve its capabilities to be ready for 2018 and 2020.
Since Reince and Callista are both from Wisconsin, we engaged in a little cheesehead conversation. The victory in Wisconsin for both the President-elect and for Senator Ron Johnson was one of the more satisfying moments on election night.
We then discussed a wide range of cabinet appointments and other items. As the presidential transition’s press release reported, “The conversation with former Speaker of the House of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich involved long-term strategies and priorities for a productive legislative agenda, as well as innovative utilization of business in our country. ”
When we were done, we took a picture with President-elect Trump in front of his wall of framed magazine covers.
We then went down to the 14th floor to catch up with some of the key players who helped win the presidential campaign. In particular, we spent time with Dave Bossie, Stephen Miller and Katie Walsh.
Dave Bossie is an longtime friend who heads up Citizens United, and with whom we’ve made eight documentary films. He is a real patriot who sacrificed six months as a volunteer to help elect the new president. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.
Stephen Miller did a brilliant job organizing and writing an enormous number of speeches which candidate Trump gave. He was busy all day every day writing speeches which helped lift Trump to victory.
Katie Walsh served as Reince Priebus’s deputy at the RNC and actually ran the nationwide ground game that made such a big difference. She is operating as the deputy to Reince in his new Chief of Staff position and is doing a great job.
After our visit, Callista and I returned to the lobby where we had a chance to brief the press. I tried to explain my role as a strategist and planner — but that is a topic for another newsletter.
We were honored to be invited to Trump Tower to visit with President-elect Trump. It was a very useful and memorable visit.