Last night, Portland hosted former White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci for an in conversation event with former Downing Street Director of Communications Alastair Campbell. The conversation ranged widely, covering not just Scaramucci’s views on the US election outcome (he unsurprisingly called it for Biden), but his views on electoral reform, the future UK and US relationship, broader geo-political instability and his own career.
While he was positive about the overall outcome of the election, Scaramucci warned people not to underestimate Trump. He noted Trump’s unique ability to provide dignity to working class Americans, highlighting that he has changed the US political calculus for decades to come. Scaramucci said that Trump’s political strategy is to firm up support among his base – banking on increased turn out rather than trying to expand the tent as his route to the White House. This he said was “the wrong calculus,” but one that could still deliver victory if everything falls into place.
What will have surprised many was the perspicacity of Scaramucci’s political insight. While often viewed as yet another ‘quirk’ of Donald Trump’s turbulent four years in the White House, Scaramucci came across as an astute reader of politics. He situated many of the current events within their long run historical context and provided broader analysis on the global impacts of the Trump presidency. His use of blunt and colourful analogy hinted at why he could have made such an effective Director of Communications, memorably describing Trump as “the orange wrecking ball” and “the Freddy Krueger” of American politics, but also how it contributed to his fall.
A week out from the election (or “just under one Scaramucci” as he himself said) this was a fascinating session for anyone interested in American politics and the implications of next week’s election for the world as a whole.