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I want all Americans to understand: we are at war with an invisible enemy, but that enemy is no match for the spirit and resolve of the American people…
… It cannot overcome the dedication of our doctors, nurses, and scientists—and it cannot beat the LOVE, PATRIOTISM, and DETERMINATION of our citizens. Strong and United, WE WILL PREVAIL!
—@realDonaldTrump, March 18, 2020
Let’s face it. Donald Trump is a rough individual. He is vain, insensitive and raw. But he loves America more than any President in my lifetime. He is the last firewall between us and this cesspool called Washington. I’ll take him any day over any of these bums. #Trump2020
—@realJamesWoods, May 17, 2020
JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU’VE SEEN EVERYTHING
The world of politics, it turns out, isn’t immune to a global pandemic. If you told us that a Chinese virus would circle the globe, crash the stock market, kill over one hundred and forty thousand Americans, and bring both President Donald J. Trump’s and former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential campaigns to a screeching halt, we would have told you you’ve read one too many Stephen King books, which you shouldn’t be doing, by the way, seeing he’s a Trump hater.
And yet, here we are.
We have been lucky enough to visit the president in the White House often but never quite like the experience we had on May 18, 2020. We were both still home with our families waiting for the Covid-19 crisis to end when the president called Corey and asked him and Dave to come see him at the White House. Molly Michael, the president’s Oval Office operations coordinator, followed up to book our appointment for 11:30 a.m. but added a small detail at the end of the call. She told us we would need to be at the Secret Service checkpoint outside the West Wing at 10:30.
Corey flew down from New Hampshire; Dave drove in from his home in Maryland. Neither of us knew exactly why we had to be at the checkpoint so early. As we pulled up to West Executive Drive just outside the White House we had our answer—you couldn’t miss it. There, in front of the checkpoint, were two newly erected clear medical tents.
Welcome to the White House in the age of coronavirus.
As of this writing, the coronavirus has caused a countrywide lockdown, and millions of hardworking Americans to become unemployed. The world’s greatest political apparatus, the 2020 Trump-Pence reelection campaign, has almost entirely transitioned to a virtual operation. The campaign headquarters in Virginia has been closed. Rallies, the lifeblood of the campaign, have been put on an indefinite hold. Wall-to-wall news coverage of Covid-19 has drowned out campaign advertising across all platforms. It was like nothing we had seen before, and in politics, at least, we’ve seen a lot.
So now, in the middle of campaign season and after almost five non-stop years of being on the road fighting for the president of the United States, doing everything in our power to first get him elected and now reelected, we’ve found ourselves in the one place neither of us ever expected: Home.
Historians will look back on the Trump 2016 presidential campaign as the most incredible political comeback ever. Corey was the president’s first and longest-serving campaign manager. With Corey guiding the 2016 operation, candidate Trump won thirty-eight primaries and caucuses and received more votes than any candidate in the history of the Republican primary process. Dave has been one of the president’s most trusted outside political advisors longer than just about anyone else. He joined the 2016 effort as deputy campaign manager in August and steered the campaign down the furious stretch to victory.
We’re also the authors of Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency, the number one best-selling account of the 2016 presidential race that even the most liberal news outlets call the seminal work of that historic ride. With a tsunami of outside factors threatening to blow this presidential election cycle sky high, the 2020 campaign has become the most important race in American history.
Still, as much as we love our wives and children, sheltering in place got old. For guys like us, for whom politics is the very air we breathe, you might as well have told us the country has turned socialist and all elections have been called off (take it easy, AOC, it’s only an analogy).
Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not as though we were just sitting home feeling sorry for ourselves; we worked the phones as hard as ever. In January 2020, Dave was named Maryland State cochairman of the Trump-Pence reelection campaign, and he served as the vice chairman of the Republican National Convention. At the end of March, along with his cochair in Maryland, Congressman Andy Harris, he conducted a conference call with hundreds of Trump volunteers from across the state. Dave asked then Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale and Chris Carr, the political director, to say a few words on the call. Brad told the volunteers about the challenges of running a campaign in the days of Covid-19. He explained how the leadership team was transitioning much of the reelection effort to the virtual realm. Chris Carr then emphasized the need for the volunteers to join the virtual effort and to work the phones as though the reelection depended on it.
Corey, a senior campaign advisor for the president’s 2020 reelection effort, is making his cell phone carrier sorry it gave him an unlimited data plan. Corey is serving as the chairman of the Trump Victory Team for New Hampshire and served as the chairman of the New Hampshire delegation to the Republican National Convention. Corey organized a similar call for the Trump team in New England with campaign volunteers.
We’d also been in constant contact with the president, including meetings in the Oval Office, where we gave him our frank assessments of the state of his reelection effort, specifically regarding the data from important swing states. Still, not being out on the campaign trail, a tradition of American politics since before Abraham Lincoln made all the whistle-stops from Springfield to DC, has been frustrating, to say the least. And it’s frustrating on a couple of levels.
For one, as confident as we were in the team’s ability to take the overwhelming percentage of the campaign online, the Trump rally is something that can never be virtually duplicated. Later in this book, we’ll take you inside and backstage at rallies so you can see for yourself the energy and importance they hold. As with Twitter, the rallies give the president the opportunity to take his message directly to the American people. But unlike Twitter, rallies give the American public the chance to see the energy and love this president has for the country firsthand. That’s something you can’t replace.
The other reason we’re frustrated is because the virus lockdown is keeping Joe Biden in his basement and out of the public eye. As nonexistence is where he’s at his best, the former VP can continue to hide the fact that he’s not fit for office and keep his poll numbers artificially high, all while being cheered on by his allies in the mainstream media. President Trump, on the other hand, is confronting a once-in-a-century pandemic, has begun to navigate the economy out of the unprecedented fallout from the virus, and faced perhaps one of the hardest decisions an American president has ever had to make: to close down the greatest economy the world has ever seen, which he built in three short years, in order to slow the spread of the virus.
From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, President Trump has made the right choices. While House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in the House were debating whether to allow the sale of flavored tobacco—which was the only piece of legislation allowed onto the floor during the month of February—President Trump was working with the Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, to stop the “invisible enemy” from spreading. They recruited the best private companies in the world to develop and produce tests, provide crucial ventilators and masks, and to send the message that the United States of America would reopen for business as soon as possible.
During White House daily briefings, President Trump invited experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, US global AIDS coordinator and US special representative for global health diplomacy, to speak directly to the American people and share important information that every American needed to know. These experts reassured the public that the government was executing a plan to keep them safe.
Whenever governors asked for assistance, regardless of party affiliation, President Trump delivered. When Democrat governor Andrew Cuomo of New York went on television requesting the president provide New York with hospital beds, President Trump dispatched the Army Corps of Engineers to turn the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side into an army field hospital. While Governor Cuomo was on television yet again, claiming the victory as his own, President Trump arranged for the USS Comfort, a naval hospital ship, to dock in Manhattan to alleviate any potential overcrowding issues. When California’s Democrat governor, Gavin Newsom, made similar requests, the president was there. Not only did he help deliver hospital beds, but he also ordered the USS Mercy to San Francisco to provide medical assistance.
Thankfully, because of the swift actions of the president and his team, many of those facilities were underutilized.
In fact, many of the states that predicted doom and gloom, forcing people inside and shutting down their economies, were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic. It’s no accident that cities with Democrat leaders such as New York City, Detroit, and Chicago are going to be crawling back from the economic disaster they’ve wrought for decades. The leaders of those cities opted for hysteria instead of good science. When they had the chance to take a good, honest look at the risk and react accordingly, they failed.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down the state and put hundreds of thousands of people out of work. A few days later, he signed an executive order that required nursing homes in New York to admit patients who’d been infected with Covid-19. As a result, thousands of people died unnecessarily in nursing homes in the state.
In New Jersey, Democrat governor Phil Murphy also forced businesses to close. But he went notably further, dictating how people could live their lives: he told them when they were allowed to go out, when they could go shopping, and when they were allowed to go for a walk in the park. When Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked him whether his actions were constitutional, Governor Murphy said that he “hadn’t been thinking about the Constitution” when he’d put his orders into place. At least he was honest.
Florida, by contrast, handled the pandemic differently. At the very beginning of the pandemic, the internet was flooded with pictures of students on spring break declaring that they didn’t care whether they got the virus or not. For a few days, the media inundated us with those images, warning that Florida was going to be the next Italy or New York. Republican governor Ron DeSantis, an independent-minded conservative, decided not to listen to the Fake News. He did not close down the state the way Governor Cuomo did in New York, and he made sure that vulnerable populations such as people in nursing homes—of which there are many in Florida—were protected.
In Georgia, Republican governor Brian Kemp also kept his state mostly open during the pandemic. He put measures into place only until the people in his state “flattened the curve” and then quickly reopened once the risk of infection went down again. He knew that as bad as Covid-19 was, the economic damage that would be done by forcing businesses to stay closed would be much, much worse.
“Our analysis shows quite clearly,” he said as the state was about to reopen, “that states that open up the soonest and the safest—and Iowa and Oklahoma and Georgia are three examples of states that are doing that—will have much swifter and stronger recovery than states that stay closed.”
Republican governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota never closed any businesses or issued a shelter-in-place policy for her state. Instead, she went on the offense. By focusing on personal responsibility, the people of South Dakota were able to continue to earn a living without government picking winners and losers as it did in so many other places. Further, in partnership with the three major health care systems in the state, she initiated the first state-backed statewide clinical trial on the use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a therapeutic.
Of course, the press will never give governors such as Noem, Kemp, or DeSantis credit for their leadership. As with anything else, whatever President Trump and Republicans did during the crisis was the wrong thing—even when they were absolutely correct—and whatever Democrats did was right. When President Trump announced, just hours after we had left a meeting with him in the Oval Office, that he’d been taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic measure against the virus, the media went insane. They cited studies that said the drug could kill people. The Fake News warned that anyone else who died as a result of taking hydroxychloroquine would be dead because of President Trump’s dangerous rhetoric.
But as usual, President Trump had been right all along. According to the New York Times, the authors of two studies that said drugs such as hydroxychloroquine were dangerous were forced to retract their research because “the authors could not verify the data on which the results depended.” Those were the people you were supposed to trust, the so-called experts you had to listen to or else you’d be called “antiscience.” Boy, how things change.
President Trump was correct about the virus, hospital beds, ventilators, hydroxychloroquine, and reopening our economy. He was also correct about the fact that the stock market was going to roar back in no time. Well, it’s already back.
From the onset of the pandemic, President Trump demonstrated strong and unwavering leadership skills. Revisionist historians in the leftist media would have you believe that everyone outside the administration knew what the coronavirus held in store for the United States. By the end of February 2020, the Chinese Wuhan virus had had a limited impact on the United States and there was little to worry about, according to the so-called experts. However, looking to prevent any potential problems, President Trump showed leadership on the issue in late January. He banned travel from China, a move that potentially saved hundreds of thousands of American lives and that Joe Biden thought of as “xenophobia.” He assembled the Coronavirus Task Force, which provided national leadership on the issue for months to come, and declared the virus a public health emergency. Don’t believe the Fake News. The president and his administration took swift and decisive action as soon as coronavirus appeared well ahead of any warnings from the “experts.”
A virus like this had not hit our shores in more than one hundred years. Yet while the president continued to do everything in his power to bring down the “invisible enemy,” the mainstream media were busy rewriting their own history with the coronavirus. While they falsely accused the administration of not taking the threat of the virus seriously enough in the beginning, they said that they, the great bastions of journalism, had been warning Americans all along. They did warn us, but not in the way you might think. Telling us not to worry or make too big of a deal over coronavirus was their only message—no nuance, no debate. The president’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, exposed the media’s hypocrisy at a May 2020 press conference. She asked such Goliath-biased news organizations as the Washington Post, the New York Times, National Public Radio, and others if they wanted to take back the headlines they published downplaying the threat of the virus. Here are just a few:
“WORRIED ABOUT CATCHING THE NEW CORONAVIRUS? IN THE U.S., FLU IS A BIGGER THREAT”
—NPR, January 29
“WHY WE SHOULD BE WARY OF AN AGGRESSIVE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS”
—The Washington Post, February 3
“IN EUROPE, FEAR SPREADS FASTER THAN THE CORONAVIRUS ITSELF”
—The New York Times, February 18
Not exactly Paul Revere, were they?
It would be laughable if those stories from January and February 2020 hadn’t downplayed the very real threat to the American people the virus posed. It was journalistic malpractice at its worst. There was no accountability among the press—only more false accusations and shifting of blame.
Once it became evident that Covid-19 could not be contained, the president rapidly expanded coronavirus testing. He made sure hospitals across the country had the resources and protective equipment they needed, including many more ventilators than were ever used. In addition to the Javits Center in New York, he ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to build emergency field hospitals in Detroit, Miami, Denver, and other cities at the cost of $660 million, with most ending up not treating a single patient. He pushed Congress to pass economic relief legislation to save small businesses and put much-needed cash into the pockets of the American people. He directed billions of dollars to private medical research and development to fast-track therapeutics and a possible vaccine. And he did all that while the entire Democrat Party and its allies in the media were unleashing an unending torrent of misinformation and outright lies about him.
Meanwhile, as the Covid-19 crisis wore on, the greatest economy the world has ever seen, one that President Trump had built out of the ruins of the Obama administration, was stretched to its limit. In one ear, he had a chorus of medical experts recommending closing the country, liberal Fake News blowing everything out of proportion, and the Democrat Party doing its best to take down Donald Trump and ruin as many American lives as it could in the process. Hollywood elitist and talk show host Bill Maher even said, “I think one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy. So, please, bring on a recession. Sorry if that hurts people.”
In the other ear, he had the voices of millions and millions of Americans who were out of work and losing hope, businesses large and small pleading for him to open up the economy, and a volatile stock market that was putting everyone’s retirement savings at risk.
For the Democrats, the president’s quandary was a dream come true. After so many failed attempts—the phony Russian investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the outrageous abuse of congressional power with the impeachment hearings, and millions of untruths told and written by the coastal elites—they thought they finally had him where they wanted him. If he held back the economy, he didn’t care about American livelihoods. If he opened the economy, he didn’t care about Americans’ lives. No matter what he did, they would blame him.
In the face of it all, day after day, President Trump stood in front of the hostile press and reassured the public of the strength of America’s character. At each press conference, he promised the American people that we would get through the crisis together—not just go back to where we were before but come out stronger on the other side. The president threw the full resources of the entire United States government at the coronavirus pandemic. The public-private partnerships forged during this crisis demonstrated once again the very best the US has to offer. Factories retooled to produce personal protective equipment (PPE); pharmaceutical companies fast-tracked research and development to create testing to diagnose the virus and speed up research for a cure. As the media continued a narrative that Trump was not doing enough to solve the problem, the president took action and promised us that we were about to embark on the great American comeback.
Though not an easy choice, President Trump’s decision to reopen the economy was the right one. He drew from a lifetime of experience in making tough business decisions. He knew that extending the lockdown for any further length of time would put the economy into the same dire position as during the Great Depression. The president had said many times, “The cure can’t be worse than the disease.” It was time to reopen the world’s strongest economy in a smart and methodical way. Predictably, when he did open the country, the Fake News reported that he cared only about his reelection chances and not about how many people would die. Perhaps no other lie it has told about him was more personal and hurtful.
From the first news conference he held during the coronavirus crisis, he said one life lost was too many.
Even the president felt the direct impact of the virus on his friends. His longtime friend and business associate Stanley Chera died after contracting Covid-19.
He said it over and over again, yet all you heard and saw from the media was that he cared only about his reelection. When the Chinese foreign minister blamed the US Army for bringing the virus to Wuhan, there was barely a ripple in the liberal press. When Nancy Pelosi called the virus “an inconvenience,” not a sound was heard. When Trump called it the Chinese virus, Fake News and the crazy left’s army of internet trolls reverted back to their old playbook, calling him xenophobic and racist.
Still, the onslaught by the biased media was taking its toll. The Democrats were using the propaganda the press was spewing to prop up Joe Biden, a broken-down candidate whose best days were far behind him. Though Sleepy Joe is an easy target, coronavirus had put its thumb on the political scale. Without rallies and being out on the campaign trail, the platforms from which the president could hit back the hardest, his success was muted. The left was playing politics at every turn. Even the liberal governor of North Carolina was using the pandemic as a political cudgel to keep the Republican National Convention in Charlotte from taking place.
From a political standpoint, it couldn’t get much worse.
Then it did.
At the end of May 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States three months old, a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on a black man’s neck until he was dead. That horrific murder was caught on film and reignited the racial divide in America. The president denounced George Floyd’s killing strongly and immediately: “All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that, for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain…. I will fight to protect you. I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”
He then ordered the United States Attorney General William Barr to have the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division open an investigation into George Floyd’s death.
But the evil and shocking incident in Minneapolis would prove to be a flashpoint that ignited riots throughout the country. Peaceful protesters found themselves embedded with domestic terrorists from Antifa and other radical leftist organizations. Mobs marauded through American cities, throwing Covid-19 precautions to the wind, looting stores, and attacking and killing police officers and innocent civilians. Many weak and feckless Democrat mayors and governors did nothing but simply stand by while this American carnage took place. The president responded decisively and boldly to restore order in the streets. Again, his priority was the health and safety of the American people. Still, emboldened by its gains during the Covid-19 crisis, the press unleashed another barrage of incendiary lies in order to help Joe Biden. By the end of May, there were nights when it seemed the country would break in two.
The Hillary-versus-Trump presidential race was as volatile and unpredictable as we had ever seen, but as it turned out, 2016 now seems tame compared to 2020. The very foundation of political campaigning and the issues impacting the American voter for Joe Biden and Donald Trump have been turned upside down. Just a few short months ago, President Trump was sailing to reelection on the strength of his economy, ending the endless wars, and creating opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. Now we are dealing with the aftermath of a global pandemic, racial tensions not seen since the 1960s, and a group of Republican Never Trumpers hell-bent on destroying the president.
Other than that, everything was going great.
Such a beautiful Opening Statement by Corey Lewandowski! Thank you Corey! @CLewandowski_
—@realDonaldTrump, September 17, 2019
- Praise for Let Trump Be Trump:
- On Sale
- Oct 6, 2020
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- 368 pages
- Center Street