Tag Archives: CNN

The new Trump Doctrine just might be Consensus

This week, I believe we have seen three examples of how President Trump is fundamentally changing and improving his approach to governing. In three particular instances over the last ten days, we have seen President Trump listen to the wise counsel of those around him and come to a full understating of a situation, demonstrate the courage to adapt his positions based on that feedback and the conditions around him and take actions designed to align with, create and build consensus.

This is encouraging. It reflects the leadership capacity that President Trump possesses and that many Americans elected him to demonstrate. We see fresh examples of this consensus driven leadership style in three key arenas – domestically, internally and internationally.

Domestically, President Trump endured a firestorm with respect to his comments on the terrible, racially driven violence in Charlottesville. On Saturday, Trump denounced “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” seemingly condemning the conduct of both the Nazi, KKK and white supremacist groups who embarrassingly and disgustingly incited the mess, and those who came to protest it.

When he did not single out the white supremacist groups by name, many people accused Trump of creating a “moral equivalency” between hate groups and those who protest against them. While in a follow up statement Trump condemned Neo-Nazis, the KKK and white supremacist groups by name, he also openly expressed his frustration with the perception of his response at a Tuesday news conference where he made the now famous “very nice people” statement, among others.

President Trump could have stubbornly stopped there, but he did not. Rather than accept division, I believe he listened to his advisors and agreed that many Americans wanted and the country needed more clarity from his words. President Trump then made a course change designed to clarify that his views, his intentions and his heart were squarely within the American consensus on race. In perhaps the most played-back line from last night’s speech, President Trump said that “when we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.” Trump was shifting from a place of confrontation to a path of consensus. CNN analyst Chris Cilizza, who has been very critical of Trump, called his tone a “stunning turnaround.” In making these additional statements, I believe President Trump wanted to make it clear that his views on Charlottesville and race are within the consensus view of the American people. I will be surprised if the president does not continue to echo the theme of American unity against prejudice, bigotry and hate in the days and weeks ahead.

Second, Trump demonstrated he was also seeking internal consensus with the dismissal of Steve Bannon. As I said in this piece in USA Today, Bannon committed the cardinal sin that every political staffer should not commit – public disagreement with your principal. But the issue with Bannon ran deeper. It has been widely reported that the Trump White House has been beset with factionalism and infighting. With the appointment of General John Kelly as White House Chief of Staff, Trump has clearly and decisively moved to end the public and private staff conflict and build a unified team that can more clearly define and advocate on behalf of the goals and objectives of his presidency. The president and General Kelly, a brilliant no-nonsense strategist, have begun making staff changes designed to build the internal consensus necessary to drive message discipline and policy vision. The dismissal of Bannon was a seminal change in this area. Even though Bannon played an outsized role in helping Trump beat Clinton, and Trump is surely grateful to him, the need for staff consensus to drive vision and policy was judged more important and the move was made.

Finally, President Trump made a demonstrative act of consensus driven leadership in announcing his position on Afghanistan. President Trump is strengthening his commitment to resolving this conflict in a way that protects American interests. Here he made his clearest statement yet that he was capable of listening, learning, changing and leading:

“My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, in other words, when you’re President of the United States.”

In three distinct areas – domestically, internally, internationally – and in three distinct ways – creating clarity with a consensus view, building internal consensus within in the White House staff and providing consensus driven leadership on the international stage, President Trump has demonstrated the qualities of listening, learning, changing and leading that are hallmarks of good leadership. In the soils of what many may say was one of the worst weeks of his presidency, we may be seeing a renewal of purpose and vision capable of leading his presidency and the country to brighter days ahead.

Three States or Four Screens? Welcome to the New Presidential Primary.

Carly in IAOnce upon a time, running for president was arguably confined to a Three State exercise. You gathered endorsements, knocked on doors, stood on flatbeds and made speeches in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Not anymore.

Today running for president requires a Four Screen Strategy. TV, Desktop, Tablet and Mobile.

The endorsement of a local figure is less powerful than that of a popular blogger who might live thousands of miles away. Candidates knock on many more email inboxes than doors for a fraction of the cost.

And voters don’t have to brave the cold or the rain to see a full-length speech from a political candidate. We can watch live on CNN, Fox News Channel or MSNBC from the warm cocoons of our living rooms. Missed the moment? No worries. you are a YouTube click away from all the speeches you want, such as this glorious rant from Donald Trump last night.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 1.15.50 PMThe speech was made in Fort Dodge, Iowa, but it could have been made in Fort Worth, Texas or Fort Deposit, Alabama and had the same impact in our Three States. Thanks to our Four Screens, the latest Trump De Force will reverberate far beyond 1500 Iowa eyewitnesses. Voters in New Hampshire, South Carolina and other early primary states awoke this morning to Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Email Inboxes with All Caps messages from friends and influencers across the country. “OMG you have to watch,” “LOL at Trump” and “Trump WTF” was splashed across our screens with links to video of the speech and stories, tweets and commentary framing it.

A recent Pew Research study confirms the Four Screen phenomenon. Attending campaign events, once a staple of American politics, is becoming less relevant. Voters were more than twice as likely to report they followed a candidate on social media than to say they’d attended a campaign event – young voters five times more likely.

Voters also report declines in campaign contacts from printed mail, home visits, prerecorded and live calls, with an increase in only one area – E-Mail. And while slightly fewer voters reported seeing a TV ad, the TV Screen is still king, far outpacing other forms of direct contact in reaching voters.

More and more voters are following candidates on social media for more than interesting and relevant content. Voters increasingly say “it helps me find out about political news before other people do.” This means voters aren’t just following the campaigns and forming an opinion. They are becoming “micro opinion leaders,” socializing shareable content such as videos, polls, stories, lists and analysis from sites like Politico, RealClearPolitics and Independent Journal Review so they can advocate and influence the views and votes of others.

This is why smart campaigns are investing time and dollars in creating their own shareable digital content and mastering the technology necessary deliver it to Four Screen primary voters. As Nicholas Carr noted in a recent Politico Magazine story:

Ted Cruz live-streams his appearances on Periscope. Marco Rubio broadcasts “Snapchat Stories” at stops along the trail. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush spar over student debt on Twitter. Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham produce goofy YouTube videos. Even grumpy old Bernie Sanders has attracted nearly two million likers on Facebook, leading the New York Times to dub him “a king of social media.”

The job of the modern campaign is not only to deliver message to audience. It is to empower the audience to become an army of evangelists for your candidate, equipping them with the sharpest implements of modern day digital and social advocacy to help them shape and win the online conversation.

We still count votes in those three states, and their scoreboards have power to change momentum and drive the broader race. But the campaigns with the most powerful Four Screen Strategies are the ones lighting those scoreboards up with votes.

P.S. – As a Friday bonus, here is a really great cover of Ramblin’ Man by the Miller Brothers.  Thanks to Larry Williams at TigerIllustrated.com for sharing it this morning.

The CNN Debate – Winners & Losers

UPDATE:  I’ll be on Al Jazeera America Tonight on a great program called Inside Story. It airs at 11:30pm EST.  The Host, Ray Suarez, is a former PBS/NewsHour veteran and a seasoned and accomplished journalist. These appearances are always thoughtful and insightful conversations.  There is a link to a prior appearance here. To see if you can get the show, there is a channel finder here

Tonight, on a stage crowded with strong men, they were led by a woman.

Carly Fiorina won this debate. Marco Rubio came in second.

Together they demonstrated the combination of depth and passion that Republicans will need to take back the White House next year.

For voters who want a fighter, an outsider and a leader, she checks all the boxes. And she has the greatest gift you can have in marketing – she’s different.

I would give her one piece of counsel – a little less intensity, and a smile every now and then would be a nice touch.  But tonight proved to Republicans that if she can take on a room full of tough men, she can surely hold her own with Hillary Clinton.

Fiorina is now likely to vault to the first tier of candidates and may be about to take a polling rocket ride. The next question she’ll have to answer is, can she sustain her orbit?  Can she continue to soar or, like so many others in presidential politics, does she lose trajectory and plummet back to Earth.

Marco Rubio had a great night. He reminded voters of all the qualities that he has that terrify the Clinton camp: strength, depth, youth, energy, his natural diversity and the power of his personal story.

Ted Cruz also had a good night. He is a master debater. He picked his spots in areas of strength – Planned Parenthood, Iran and judges – and laid back at other times where the issues didn’t cut to his advantage.  He was smart to pick his spots.

Christie and Kasich and even Rand Paul had moments, but it didn’t feel as though they did anything to fundamentally change their position.

The other big story of the night was the disappearing act of Donald Trump. The debate format clearly showed he is lacking not only in decorum, but depth. Other than on the issue of immigration, he was either reactive or unheard. Tonight the curtain was pulled back and we saw the Wizard of Oz for what he was, a shallow salesman who was all sizzle but no substance.

This debate also may have spelled the beginning of the end for Scott Walker. His debate was a microcosm of his entire campaign. He started early with high hopes, by taking on Trump and scoring early points. But by the end of the debate we were asking the same question we are asking tonight about his campaign: “Where did he go?”

On a final note, it’s also worth nothing that tonight demonstrated that the GOP has a deep bench and a bright future. My party has a lot of intriguing and diverse faces like Florina, Rubio, Cruz and Carson.  The party is in good hands going forward.

UPDATE:  A few more thoughts in Politico HERE and thanks to Mike Allen for the mention in Politico Playbook HERE.  Also shared a few Scott Walker thoughts HERE with the Wisconsin State Journal and I always love talking with Salena Zito, author of one of the best blogs ever, Off Road Politics HERE.  

Why the Rick Perry Campaign is Not a Walking Dead Episode – Yet

Political campaigns don’t die, they just run out of money.

When they do, candidates have to ask staff to work without pay.

So Rick Perry has a new mascot that would make my friend Brad Todd proud.  Perry’s campaign is now made up of these:


And it was fun to talk it over with Kate Bolduan from CNN’s This Hour.  Kate asked all the right questions.  Story from CNN site and a link to the whole segment below.

CNN This Hour with Kate Bolduan, August 11, 2015

After the CNN appearance, also had a chance to chat with Jessica Taylor of NPR.  Jessica is a rising star in DC media circles – and I would not say that just because she is a great Furman Paladin, she’s truly good.

Rick Perry: No This Is Not a Walking Dead Episode Yet


Trump’s Jump, Hillary’s Lumps

Spent a few minutes talking with Rosemary Church on CNN about Trump and Clinton.

Trump is not going away anytime soon, folks.  He has money.  He has organization.  And he has the lead.  He’s even rolling out policy proposals.

Meanwhile Hillary is in more trouble than most Democrats are willing to admit.  She’s her own worst enemy.  Her problems are a matter of her own flawed judgments.

When a candidate can’t get out of the way of their own campaign, things get really tough.