President Donald Trump is often seen as a political outsider guided by impulse and instinct, or as some sort of genius playing multidimensional chess — but the reality is, he might just be running a standard Republican strategy.
A Republican operative named Doug Davenport says he was paid by Trump to write a strategy memo in 2014, ahead of his improbable presidential run, and author Allen Sirkin shared the document with some excerpts published by Vice.
“Trump is often executing plays written by ordinary Republican political operatives,” wrote Sirkin, “and has been doing so competently for longer than either those who prefer to think of him as a genius or those who think of him as simply senile might like to admit.”
Davenport, a Washington, D.C. strategist who previously worked for Paul Manafort’s lobbying firm, shared the memo with Sirkin and his co-author Aaron Short for their oral history, “The Method to the Madness: Donald Trump’s Ascent as Told by Those Who Were Hired, Fired, Inspired.”
“You won’t be campaigning one-on-one at Pizza Ranches or at town halls that have a handful of seniors in attendance,” Davenport advised Trump, “rather you will pack auditoriums with enthusiasts and the curious who will witness not a speech but a production about American greatness capped with a message of Leadership from Donald Trump.”
That sounds a lot like Trump’s campaign rallies from the start of his campaign through his presidency, but Davenport warned the longshot bid for the White House did not come without risk.
“A long and extracted Presidential Nomination Process is risky to both to the [sic] Trump political brand and the Trump business brand. But the upside is huge,” the memo reads. “The time is now — if you are serious about this — it is your last window to do it. BUT, you must have the right messages, the right team around you and align yourself with the right players overall. AND, you must show people you are deadly serious and focused on this race and it is by no means some grand media stunt.”
The White House declined comment on the memo, which Trump recommended to campaign aide Sam Nunberg in a handwritten note.
“Sam-, I like Doug- His memo to me was great- Please set up another meeting- Thanks,” Trump told Nunberg.