Roger Stone: Trump told me he'd run on New Year's Day 2013


Donald Trump made a New Year's resolution in 2013 that would end up capsizing American politics and lead to one of the most stunning upsets in electoral history, according to a new book by veteran political consultant Roger Stone.

"He told me on New Year's Day 2013 that he was running for president in 2016," Stone writes in "The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution."

When Stone pointed out to Trump that the media would be deeply skeptical that he would actually launch a campaign based on his previous flirtations with public office, Trump replied, "That will disappear when I announce."

And the rest is history.

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Stone has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the new president, whom he remained in touch with throughout the whirlwind 2016 presidential campaign. When Trump initially turned the key on a candidacy in 2015, Stone was a top adviser. But he didn't last very long after clashing with Trump's initial campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, whom Stone skewers throughout his 325-page tome.

While Trump said he fired Stone, Stone still disputes that, saying he left the formal campaign on his own account.

"I do not regret the public 'breakup' we had to endure, manufactured in large part by the feckless Corey Lewandowski and the limp minds of the mainstream media," Stone writes.

Stone's book is a detailed chronology of the historic race for the White House, largely culled from news accounts of mainstream media organizations like The New York Times. But he provides a few appetizing nuggets for political junkies who relish a peek behind the curtain of a campaign.

In one account, Stone says the Trump campaign made clear to then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as early as April that he would be a candidate for vice president, in an effort to keep Pence from endorsing Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas ahead of the Hoosier State primary.

Top Trump aides, including Paul Manafort, "talked nervously about the likelihood of a Pence-Cruz alliance," Stone says.

"It had just been reported that Pence wouldn't endorse after all – a result of a Manafort emissary's visit. His message: Trump was going to win and Pence was at the top of the list of potential running mates," Stone writes.

But Pence did end up making a last-minute endorsement of Cruz, though it was tempered and included praise of Trump. Doing so obviously didn't hurt Pence enough to keep him off the Trump ticket.

Stone, a former business partner of Manafort's, says one of his best decisions was to hire GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio to carve out the electoral path against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Stone credits "the pugnacious and bulldog-like Fabrizio, who insisted that the Trump campaign had to expand the map into Wisconsin and Michigan, while doubling down on Pennsylvania."

"The campaign shifted digital paid advertising resources to the states but it was Trump's personal barnstorming in all three states that made the difference. Fabrizio insisted Trump could win only through this route. He was right," Stone writes.

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Stone has been encouraging Trump to run for president since 1987, but he says the first person who ever raised the idea was a former president: Richard Nixon, whom Stone got to know during Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign.

Stone says after meeting Trump in George Steinbrenner's box at Yankee Stadium, Nixon was immediately impressed. "Your man's got it," Stone quotes Nixon telling him afterwards.

Though some observers have compared Trump's disruptive candidacy and presidency to Reagan's, Stone actually sees a stronger parallel with Nixon.

"Trump is more like Nixon than Reagan – a pragmatist who speaks for the Silent Majority. Like Nixon, Trump is no ideologue. He is essentially a populist with conservative instincts," Stone writes.

Ironically, Stone also likens Nixon to another prominent modern-day Republican: Cruz.

"Ted Cruz is a smart, canny, talented guy who ran a great 'long race' campaign. He aspires to be Reagan but, trust me, he's Nixon – right down to the incredible discipline and smarts playing the political game," Stone writes.

Then he slides a dagger into the former Trump rival.

"Heidi Cruz recently said that her husband's candidacy was showing America 'the face of [the] God [that we] serve,'" Stone writes. "No Heidi, we don't see the face of God in Ted Cruz. We see someone who appears to not have a conscience, only self-interest."

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

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