In an interview on Saturday, former White House Press Secretary and Communications Director Sean Spicer said the big difference working for President Donald Trump than other politicians is that “he drives the train,” not “the other way around.”
“You’re sort of considered the subject matter expert on messaging and media and therefore you craft a strategy and a message, talking points and all that,” he said. “You bring them up to the principle you serve and say, ‘Okay, boss. Here’s what I think we should say, here’s how we should do it, here’s when we should do it and what I think we should say about it, and your boss will tweak or edit or approve it.”
“The difference with Trump and the dynamic you’re talking about is that he drives the train, and your job is to sort of follow and amplify as opposed to the other way around.”
Mr. Spicer is referring to a politician being handled by political advisors armed with poll-tested messages. President Trump does not get handled by anyone, which in many instances, works to his benefit. But it can also work against him.
Mr. Spicer’s remarks came during an interview Saturday on the Don Smith Show to discuss his book, The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President.
With more than two decades of experience as a political campaign and communications strategist, he also offered his opinion of why President Trump’s message struck such a strong cord with working class Americans.
“So many times working class men and women have heard exactly what my Dad was saying, that politicians would come along and say. ‘I’m going to do this for you. I’m going to fight for this policy, enact things that will get greater economic growth,’ and all this. I think for most people it falls on deaf ears, they say, ‘yeah, we’ve heard this before,'” Mr. Spicer said. “Trump was very specific about understanding the needs working men and women have, which is that their jobs in many cases are at stake because of a lot of these policies, and he was looking after their jobs.”
“Most people are tired. They don’t want policies so much as results. Trump was saying, ‘I want to focus on the result,’ which is your job and your well-being.”
The insider book also offers an inside look into the White House communications shakeup in 2017. Mr. Spicer pulls no punches on the reason behind him leaving the White House.
Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired 10 days after he took over at communications.
Rich Baris, Director of Big Data and PPD’s Election Project Model, who also made an appearance on the Don Smith Show on Saturday, said Mr. Spicer was the first initial first-term press secretary to be “shafted” out of a presidential “honeymoon.”
He also noted that — while the lack of a disciplined poll-tested message helps his authenticity — it can play out terribly wrong, as was the case in Helsinki.
“Sean Spicer is particularly unique. As an employee of President Trump’s Administration, he got shafted out of what Donald Trump got shafted by extension,” he said. “Every president gets a honeymoon period, Don. In all the years we’ve been doing this, even after Bush vs. Gore in 2000, there was still a honeymoon period, even with half the country feeling Bush was an illegitimate president.”
“Donald Trump never got that. And by extension, Sean Spicer, being his first press secretary, never got that benefit, either. So, it was completely unchartered territory,” he added. “He [Spicer] didn’t have a blueprint on how to handle this.”
Sean Spicer’s interview begins after the commercial break at around 12:35 pm EST, or about 34 minutes into the clip below.