Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale gave his first media interview on Tuesday evening since being removed from the campaign in September and highlighted several issues that he believes severely harmed the campaign.
Parscale’s interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum happened after Parscale was removed from the campaign after dealing with some personal matters outside of the campaign.
Parscale highlighted four key issues that he thinks harmed Trump’s re-election chances:
- The campaign deviated from the plan that Parscale says he and Jared Kushner created.
- Trump was surrounded by “yes-men” who told him whatever he wanted to hear.
- The campaign abandoned “the largest budget ever of Election Day operations” that involved the campaign’s legal plan that had been designed two years prior.
- Trump should have focused on “public empathy” when it came to responding to the coronavirus pandemic vs. “opening the economy.”
During the interview, Parscale also revealed two significant numbers: Prior to the pandemic, “all” of the campaign’s internal polling showed Trump “winning by 400-some electoral votes.” The second number was, in internal polling, Parscale claims that he tested 140 policies in which Trump and Biden differed, and that Trump beat Biden in 139 policies in terms of favorability with the American people.
The following is a breakdown of the four key issues that Parscale said hurt the Trump campaign (transcript via Fox News):
The campaign deviated from the plan that Parscale says he and Jared Kushner created.
- “I always had a lot of confidence in our plan. And I think the president and Jared had a lot of confidence in the plan. And it was unfortunate that we diverged from the plan right as we came down the stretch.”
- “But they paused the plan, eventually went back to it. But we had a plan. I had a lot of time to plan. And in ’16, people don’t like to admit it, but I was a semi-quasi-campaign manager. Never got to say that publicly before, because I couldn’t. Jared was the real campaign manager. I was the one doing the day-to-day. And we won. And it really didn’t make sense to me why, in ’20, they had to change away from that.”
- “We understood where the weakness is, where we need to pick up the votes. We understood what Election Day operations need to look like because of the legal fight. We planned that fight out two years in advance. I understood that this was going to happen. My team understood it was going to happen. We had a plan to increase the Latino and black vote, which we did. We had a plan to try to keep the suburban housewives. We had a lot of plans. And we knew exactly what the path was to victory. COVID threw a wrench in it. But we still had a plan even through that.”
- “My plan tried to make this a choice election, not a referendum. And I think that was one of the biggest disputes within the campaign. I knew that, if it was a choice, with the president with COVID, and the economy, the president with his policies vs. Biden — I tested 140-plus policies against Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump. Trump bested him in 139 with the American people. They knew the president’s policies are what they wanted. The issue was how to keep this as a choice election, Joe Biden’s America and going back, that he somehow could do this better, which I don’t think he can, or Donald Trump, who had made America better and his policies, and make sure it didn’t end up a referendum on him.”
- “But they paused. They didn’t know my plan. They didn’t know to execute it or not. And they started to diverge away from it. And they started to test it. Should we use data like this? Should we buy TV like this? Should we run this? Should we do this? Should we even work with the RNC? Which I think were crucial mistakes, and I could name crucial mistakes. I just, I don’t understand why, because the president should have won by a lot more.”
- “In February of 2020, before COVID, the president in all of our polling was winning by 400-some electoral votes. The Super Bowl ad, in itself, paid for itself two times over, meaning our fan — or his fan base, his voting base, was so excited that he went up on the Super Bowl, the game they watch, they donated tens of millions of dollars to it. … At that point, he was killing Joe Biden, 400 electoral votes. It was going to be the biggest landslide in American history since Nixon at that point. And we knew we wanted to win the black vote. Jared and I and the president sat down and said, what is the best thing we can do with the Super Bowl vote?”
Trump was surrounded by “yes-men” who told him whatever he wanted to hear.
- “I think it’s all the D-level people, all the talking heads that are around the president that had never done anything in their life, never created a business, never built anything successful, but talked themselves into something. And I think, when the polling numbers were going down, they were in his ear, and I was out working.”
- “I didn’t like lying to him. I like telling him the truth. Sometimes, that came with a lot of — a lot of painful days, after knowing that I might have let him down or made him upset. But a lot of those D-level people that hung around him, they just told him what he wanted to hear. They were yes-men. And I wasn’t going to be a yes-man. I was going to be a get-it-done man. And I did it for him. I did it for the family. I did it for this country, because I feel like somebody needed to be the one telling him the truth. And I think Jared did too. I think we both paid the price for that sometimes.
The campaign abandoned the “the largest budget ever of Election Day operations” that involved the campaign’s legal plan that has been designed two years prior.
- So, in April of 2019, I came up with the largest budget ever of Election Day operations, in partnership with the RNC. What that meant was to have lawyers everywhere, file suits beforehand, protect beforehand. And somehow, between July of 2020 and Election Day, that fell apart. And that’s a question. I don’t know exactly what the answer is. But, from everything I’m hearing, it did not occur. And I think that’s a travesty to this — to this campaign. It’s a travesty to President Trump. It’s a travesty to this republic. And I think that it shouldn’t have happened, and I don’t know why. And I was trying to do everything I could to keep it from happening. … I think we would have filed the lawsuits beforehand. We would have been asking beforehand. We have been trying to. Why weren’t — during the early voting days, why weren’t they already getting into there — in there and then already filing lawsuits? Why are they not in there? Why do we — why are we doing it post? And I think that somebody did drop the ball on that. And I think — I think, as campaign manager, I wouldn’t have been an expert at everything. But I always knew how to sit and ask the questions to everybody. I would have put the right staff in front of me and said, why are we not doing this? How are we — everyday, I would have said, how are we preventing fraud? How are we preventing that we get beat by the DNC in this?
Trump should have focused on “public empathy” when it came to responding to the coronavirus pandemic vs. “opening the economy.”
- “That 1, 2 percent possibly we lost of suburban families, right, the men and women in the suburbs, Philly suburbs, Atlanta suburbs, I think that goes to one thing. And I think it was the decision on COVID to go for opening the economy vs. public empathy. And I think a young family with a young child who, one, were scared to take them back to school, wanted to see an empathetic president and an empathetic Republican Party. And I think that — and I said this multiple times, and he chose a different path. And I don’t think anything is wrong with this. I love him. But, like, we had a difference on this. I thought we should have public empathy. I think people were scared. I walked around this — people and walked — watched people walk around me, not like two years ago, and they just didn’t want to walk next to me because I’m Brad Parscale, but walk around me because I got a mask on now, and they just don’t want to get COVID. I can see how waitresses stand a little farther from the table. People were scared. And I think — I think, if he would have been publicly — publicly empathetic, he would have won by a landslide there. I think he could have leaned into it, instead of run away from it.”
- “Policy error. There’s different kind of errors. There’s technical errors. There’s policy errors. There’s things — there’s also things he did great. It’s hard to see that now, when things are so close. But he built one of the greatest economies in history. He wouldn’t even have been close if he wouldn’t have been that far. I still think he’s going to go down as one of the greatest presidents. I think he got one choice away from being perfect. And that was, do I want to open the country and be the economic — or do I lean publicly empathetic? And I think it goes right into thing — because this is one of the most empathetic men when you’re right — when you’re sitting next to him. He cares about you, asks about your family, all that stuff. All he had to do is get on stage and do that.”
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