This morning we hosted a breakfast discussion between Portland’s Alastair Campbell and Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North America Editor to mark the publication of his new book, “A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump’s White House“. Here are the top five takeaways from this morning’s event:
1. Political mastermind?
Having observed Trump’s decisions as a journalist, Jon commented on how, whilst his decisions are often controversial and receive backlash, his manoeuvres are politically calculated. Additionally, whilst he is not beholden to an ideology, he knows what he needs to do to win – he will do anything it takes to achieve this! Sopel further discussed how Trump lacks strategy but rather has fantastic gut instincts, especially when it comes to gauging public opinion.
2. How to secure re-election
Jon discussed in detail an interesting analysis of Trump and the white educated female vote. Sopel noted that since 2016, Trump has lost support from white educated women, which was reflected in the 2018 midterm results. Trump now faces the dilemma of how to gain women’s support. Sopel suggested that Trump may get rid of Mike Pence, who was bought on to gain the evangelist support, and instead add a female running mate – potentially Nikki Haley – the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Additionally, Sopel talked about the possibility of Ivanka Trump taking on more responsibility as a further attempt to attract female voters.
3. 25th Amendment. Irrational or Intelligent?
Trump’s mental stability is often questioned; his erratic twitter activity and global outbursts often cause headlines to question his mental capacity as President of the United States of America. When asked by Alastair Campbell on his thoughts about Trump’s mental state, Jon responded by describing the President as vain and narcissistic, but he had not seen evidence of mental impairment. Jon interestingly noted that he believes one mistake the media has made is that they take Trump literally, as well as seriously.
4. ‘Zuckerberg wouldn’t get this’
A brief anecdote Jon shared detailed the personal satisfaction Trump gets from the Presidential treatment he receives. During a trip to New York Trump’s detail was required to travel from Wall Street to Uptown Manhattan and thus the West Side Highway was closed. Gary Cohen later revealed that during their brief trip up the highway to their next appointment Trump turned to him and triumphantly acclaimed ‘Zuckerberg wouldn’t get this’.
5. Supreme Legacy
An interesting observation made by Jon, in response to a question regarding Trump’s legacy, revealed the impact that he believes the President has been able to make by appointing two Supreme Court judges during his first two years in office. Obama and Bush both only appointed two judges in eight years. The crucial constitutional position of the Supreme Court means that Trump’s appointments will shape the long-term political and social landscapes of America.