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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Covering Republicans in the 2016 Presidential Election

Ed O'Keefe, Reporter, the Washington Post
Cleveland, OH
July 20, 2016




Date: 07/20/2016 Location: Cleveland, OH Description: Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe speaks with journalists about his experience covering the Republican side of the U.S. presidential race. - State Dept Image

4:30 P.M. EDT

THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION, CLEVELAND, OH

MODERATOR: Ed O’Keefe is a reporter for the Washington Post. He has been covering the Republican presidential election since the very beginning, since the primaries, so this is the man to ask about the phenomena of Donald Trump and how to cover an election in the United States.

MR O’KEEFE: Never did I ever think I’d be standing in front of a U.S. government seal, so this should be fun. [Laughter]. And yes, the views expressed here -- that’s nice. Are not the views of the U.S. government. I’ve never had -- [Laughter].

Hi, I’m Ed. Nice to meet you.

Now give me a sense, how many of you are actually based in the States on a regular basis? Most of you. Okay, cool. Are you in Washington or L.A., New York? Okay. So you’re somewhat familiar with how this all works.

I’ve been on this now for about 18 months or so because I first covered Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. I spent a lot of time in Miami, and I know I have a few friends who are foreign correspondents like yourselves, and I noticed a lot of you would show up in Miami when given the opportunity because who doesn’t want to go to Miami, right? And initially, of course, we thought that those two guys were the leading contenders, but that was quickly disproven about this time last year.

Now we have Trump, who is officially the nominee as of last night, and he is running pretty close to Mrs. Clinton, which should not be a surprise to any of you if you look deeper into polling. It continues to show that she is just considered too untrustworthy or deceptive or unqualified for whatever reason, that email issues that she faced in the last few weeks certainly did some potentially lasting damage. I’m intriguedtonight to see Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who I think a recent Republican poll showed that 84 percent of Republicans across the country don’t know who he is. There are some Indiana Republicans in the back of the room who know who he is, but most Americans do not. And he has a big job tonight, obviously, to not only introduce himself, but then to quickly pivot and become a bit of an attack dog against Mrs. Clinton. That’s usually what the [inaudible] ends up doing. And we’ll see to what effect he does thattonight.

Given that he is a guy who is pretty good with a sound bite, given that he has a radio background and has been known to be partisan but not, as he says, angry about it, it should be interesting to see what kind of an indictment he tries to deliver against Mrs. Clinton tonight and whether he tries to do it in any less of an aggressive tone that we’ve seen certainly on Monday night and then last night.

I figure it’s just more helpful if you guys have questions, and I’m happy to just engage those, unless there’s anything else I should say at the start.

QUESTION: I’m Hiro Aida with Kyodo News. I’m from Tokyo, Japan.

My first question is when did you start feeling that Trump could be a Republican presidential candidate?

MR O’KEEFE: I think most -- last fall, because he didn’t fade the way that people thought he might. We have seen candidates sort of spike and drop before. If you covered the 2012 elections you remember Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman from Minnesota; or Herman Cain, the businessman from Georgia. There have been others. It’s been a long week. But that didn’t happen, and I think the reason it didn’t happen is he just had this remarkable name recognition and he was tapping into something that the rest of us didn’t quite entirely grasp, which was the deep-rooted dissatisfaction with Washington and the fact that he was speaking his mind in such an impolitic kind of way.

So, by the fall, I think, for me, at least, is when we began to realize that this was probably legitimate, and by Christmas he wasn’t going anywhere.

Iowa was a momentary blip where he didn’t win but I think that had more to do with the conservative makeup of the people who showed up for the caucuses than anything else. And New Hampshire, of course, was the start of it.

QUESTION: I have a small question. Why this guy can say so many anti-PC comments? Usually in American politics, if you say one of those things, you know, you just instantly dropped from any kind of political competition.

For example, Rowan Sellers just said as a president of the Harvard University, he said something about the arithmetic capability of women. He lost his job. So that’s a usual case, you know, that PC is such a, kind of a solidified type of thing [inaudible] of this country. But why could he do this? What’s the reason for that? Your observations.

MR O’KEEFE: Well, I think he has said it over and over again, which is that he wasn’t going to do this the way it’s been done traditionally or historically in the past. And he saw no downside to it when, as he started speaking his mind, the numbers just kept going up. So I think the way he sees it is, his reputation is one that is not of Washington or is not of a state house. He’s never served in Congress. He’s never had to cast a vote. But he’s sort of seen as an everyman, or speaking on behalf of regular, everyday Americans who, I think, in a lot of cases aspire to have the wealth and success and the fame that he has enjoyed, and appreciate that somebody who has achieved all that is then willing to go and say and do all the things he has said and done.

Look, I’ve covered Congress for the last three or four years, roughly, and seen how that place is operated. I think this is to some extent an extension of American hatred of Congress and its inability to get anything done. It’s not just about the President, it’s about Congress, as well. They see someone who’s willing to come in and butt heads and, given how desperate they are for a better economic situation and how scared they are of overseas terrorism and the violence that continues to plague the streets of this country, he continues to do well.

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this. I’m Andreas Ross with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Two little questions. First is, have you ever seen the negativity at this point of a campaign as pronounced as last night, for example, in Chris Christie’s sort of indictment on Monday night? Is there anything to compare this with, even on the same level?

And as someone who’s covered the primaries pretty extensively, but this is the first general I’ll be seeing from up close, could you sort of, talking shop, tell us what, how the rest of the campaign is going to be different? Are we still going to see small events? Or is it going to be all huge and superscripted? Or just how would you describe, also from sort of a shop talk kind of perspective, what the difference is in covering a general?

MR O’KEEFE: Your second question first. As with every day on the Donald Trump campaign, we don’t know what will happen today, and we don’t know what will happen next week. We don’t know what will happen in a month.

You may have heard over the weekend the Chairman of the Republican party, and then Paul Manafort, his chairman, say there was going to be some kind of minority outreach in the weeks after the convention. They haven’t detailed what that’s going to look like, but they claim it’s coming.

If you look at some polling that came out over the weekend from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, or separately from the Spanish language channel Univision, you’ll see that she’s beating him among Hispanics, for example, by more than 40 points, I think in both of those surveys. So if he really wants to figure that out, then he’s got to work on that.

Historically you need in this country, in recent cycles, at least 40 percent of the Hispanic vote on your side if you have any hope of winning as a Republican especially, since they rely so much on white voters who are increasingly sort of decreasing in size. So we’ll see. That’s one thing to watch for.

We don’t know how he’s going to use Mike Pence, whether he goes and has sort of smaller, more intimate events in more Republican areas of the country just to shore up the base? Or maybe he just hits the fundraising circuit and goes across the country and campaigns with congressional candidates and tries to sort of keep the party happy as Trump tries to do more [inaudible], we just don’t know.

As for the negativity: Monday night I think even more than last night, was by far the darkest, harshest, most negative I’ve seen it, and this is my sixth convention. You’re always going to see in virtually every address given some mention of the other side and some criticism of them, but I think if you were to step back from the first two nights of this, it’s very difficult to know, if you’re a casual viewer tuning in, either in Berlin or in Birmingham, Alabama, what exactly Donald Trump would do as president, because it hasn’t necessarily been explained. Instead, it’s why you shouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

Now why is he doing that, and why might she do a lot of that next week? They’re both underwater. They’re both wildly unpopular. Neither of them is breaking 50 percent. They’re in the 40’s, at best. And you know, both of them are considered untrustworthy. And many Americans, if you look at the polling, say that they’re basically voting for one to vote against the other, or to make sure that the other one doesn’t get in. We haven’t seen that dynamic in recent elections which is why I think you’re seeing so much of this negativity and why we’ll probably continue to see it tonight.

Now what makes tonight interesting is Ted Cruz, the runner-up. He’s going to get about 20 minutes or so to speak. We don’t know what he’s going to say. We don’t know whether he will endorse Trump. That’s unlikely based on the reporting we’ve done and the things he has said about this and the things his staff has said about it. So we’ll see. But I suspect Pence will spend some time on this, and certainly Trumptomorrow night.

But look at what was said on Monday night. A woman came and said that Hillary Clinton was responsible for the death of her son. Two people whose brother was killed on the Mexican border suggested that the Obama administration was culpable in his death. Last night, “lock her up, lock her up” was the chant coming from the floor. And you did see some Republicans, including the Senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake, take to Twitter right away and say we can attack her but that’s probably not the best way to do it.

So, we’re in uncharted territory. It is a signal of what you can probably expect to continue to see from Republicans as the election continues.

QUESTION: Thank you. I’m Kris Ronneberg with the Norwegian newspaper Aftensposten.

A question about objectivity, because I think that’s a challenge for a lot of us, to remain objective and to try to sort of see both sides in an equal light. And especially for someone from your newspaper, having been banned from Trump events for the last couple of months, how has that changed your reporting on Trump? And I know your editorial board is very anti-Trump. And how does it feel to be finally back here inside, at the convention.

MR O’KEEFE: Well, you actually said it the correct way. We have been banned from Trump events. It’s ironic that I’m standing at a government podium when I say if you have questions about the ban I would refer you to our spokespeople, because that’s what I’m supposed to say. And they have said things and they can give you statements and such.

I would point out for context, however, this whole event is being run by the Republican National Committee and the Republican National Convention which is a separate entity from the Trump campaign which had no direct involvement in the credentialing. That’s why we’re able to get in.

But I would also encourage you to go back and look at the last several months of our coverage, and I don’t think it’s changed at all, really. On the news side. You guys know the difference here in the States between the editorial page and the news coverage. They are separate. They certainly are at the Washington Post. We don’t know when those editorials are coming and what they’re going to say. But I think our coverage has been comprehensive, complex, accurate, and fair, and I would point out, you know, that it often includes input from people who work for Trump or from Trump himself.

Off the record one day over a beer I would tell you a lot of things, but I would refer you to our spokesperson. It’s very cool to say that.

QUESTION: David Smith of The Guardian.

Just following on from that, what have your own personal experiences been on the campaign trail in terms of those being penned in at rallies? And have you witnessed violence at rallies? And generally on a day-to-day basis what’s the relationship to you like with the Trump campaign.

MR O’KEEFE: I haven’t covered the Trump campaign as closely, as extensively as some of my colleagues. I had the assignment of covering Bush and Rubio through most of, through basically through March of this year. Their rallies never got to the size of a Trump rally. They never filled a basketball arena. Even when George W. Bush showed up for Jeb Bush in South Carolina, he struggled to fill a part of a building, you know, a third of this size. So I never really saw that. I saw it a few times in Iowa and in New Hampshire and since in other places as well.

I will say though, having seen it, and having been to some Bernie Sander rallies which were quite similar in size. Not in tone, but in size. That phenomenon, being able to fill a basketball arena in an odd-numbered year, or in an early month of a presidential election, really only began with Obama in 2008. Before that, you really wouldn’t see that until the later months of a general election campaign. I think that speaks to the sort of, the new world that we live in where you know, there’s more of a draw to that kind of stuff, and you can spread the word about those kinds of things easier so it builds interest and it forces them to find a bigger venue.

Being penned in, look, there were some extreme examples of that. I think you’re all familiar with them. But usually when it comes to these events, you know, there is an area cordoned off for the press and you sit in that area generally. I know from my own experience at Trump events that usually before they began, you were able to go out and talk to people. It was sort of when he began speaking that they asked that you head back to your seats, and that’s somewhat typical with other candidates, as well.

I can’t speak to direct experience with the violence and what not, but I think otherwise what we saw over the course of this and how that violence sort of affected the treatment of reporters in very limited and specific circumstances, but otherwise, that’s kind of been typically how it’s done. Otherwise it’s going to be an exhausting and exhilarating process when you’re doing it all the time. And the struggle now, as I think all of you know, is that you have to be doing it 24x7. You don’t just have one deadline because the appetite for this has been insatiable. This is beyond what we saw in 2008, certainly in 2012. And yes, I think a lot of it can be traced to Trump, whether you like him or you don’t. It’s just driven this. And the fact that there were 17 guys - 16 guys and one woman - running on the Republican side. That had never, that was, frankly, that was European style or Latin American style. We’re not used to that. That made it very different, as well.

QUESTION: Ine Roox from the Brussels newspaper De Standaard.

We have a lot of experience with anti-establishment candidates in Europe.

MR O’KEEFE: Yes, you do.

QUESTION: Do you think, first of all, that Trump eventually can deliver? And second, do you think that the Republican party will try to in some way out-rule him in Congress and work on legislation, have him confined to a kind of ceremonial role, if that is ever possible?

MR O’KEEFE: What do you mean by do you think he can deliver? When you asked, do you think he can deliver, what do you mean by that?

QUESTION: That he can, if you talk about the economic agenda, a lot of people disenfranchised with traditional politics, can he satisfy them? Can he deliver and bring meaningful change to those people voting for him?

MR O’KEEFE: I guess that remains to be seen, honestly, because we don’t know how he’ll govern. I think that speaks to your second question of what will Republicans do. I think if you look at how they have tried to govern this year, it is very different than how he says he would run things. You know, there’s still a majority of Republican lawmakers who support the TransPacific Partnership and the deal with Europe, despite his opposition. And now the stated formal opposition of the party if you read the platform. They would do things differently on national security. They would do things different on a wide variety of social issues. A wide variety of issues.

So, conceivably, let’s say there is a President Trump, I think he will have to see some pretty difficult negotiations between congressional Republicans and him, and a lot of it will depend on you know, if he wins, by what margin did he win, and has he been able to turn around and actually become a popular president among a majority of Americans, or is he still just favored by a plurality?

Because remember the two years, in the next presidency there’s another big election for Congress, and really, if you can’t get anything done in your first 18 months as president, it’s very difficult to do anything ambitious after that because political circumstances start to overtake and then he has to worry about his own reelection.

We’ve tried to look at that, how would a Republican Congress govern with a Republican Trump presidency, and it’s too hypothetical at this point. But if you look at the challenges, you know, you’ve got to pass a budget every year. You in some way have to deal with immigration reform, and I don’t think a border wall would pass Congress. So if he wants to go into it through executive action, well, that would be challenged on legal grounds immediately. It also would cost a lot of money so he’d have to find the money, and there are a lot of fiscal conservatives in Congress who would want to make sure that if that’s being paid for something else is being cut in the budget. So there would have to be debate about that. And Mexico says it wouldn’t pay for it, so you might have a global crisis on your hands with your next door neighbor getting very upset with you. So you can see how the first week might go. Then we’ll just have to wait and see if it happens.

QUESTION: Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times.

From the first two days of the convention it’s very clear that he is still not getting along with the party. And there’s two more days left now, then they go out to the grand election. And yesterday you could see the stands were empty, too. And on the floor, some delegates were cheering and chanting, “Trump, Trump.” And there were very many who just sat through everything, stoically. Especially the Hawaii delegation.

So, how far do you think he’ll go with this kind of disconnect with the party? And do you see him, he’s just got a couple of weeks left now to reach out to the party. Do you think he believes he can do this without the party? And--

MR O’KEEFE: He can’t do it without the party. From a voting perspective, he can’t do it without Republicans because there aren’t enough independents in this country to elect him president. He can’t do it without the party because you need the mechanics of sort of the get people to vote operations that the party can provide to get out the word. You know, being on TV every night is one thing. Being able to Tweet and have a few million people follow you is another thing. But really going and encouraging people to fill out that absentee ballot, or to know where their polling place is is a little more difficult.

Now, he did win the primaries, but you’re dealing with a smaller universe of voters. You’re only dealing with a few million Republican voters as opposed to a universe of about 200 million people in this country.

So, if history holds, if trends hold, he will not be able to do without the Republican party.

Remember the people on the floor of this convention are the most devoted diehard long-serving party activists. These are people who have been involved in Republican politics in one way or another either for just a few years or in some cases for decades. They, more than anyone, subscribe to the party orthodoxy which is conservative on social issues, conservative on fiscal issues, a more hawkish view on foreign policy. And a guy like him blows through and suddenly upends everything. It’s very difficult for a lot of these people to appreciate that and to accept it.

Remember also that in all these states, selecting who gets to be here is a little different. And the Cruz campaign was very good at manipulating and winning those processes at the county level and at the state level to send people here who in the back of their mind would prefer to be nominating Cruz, but now because of the party rules they have to be supporting Trump. That’s why you’re seeing such a deflated response. Very few of the people in this room, well, probably if you were to sit there and poll the 2,400 delegates who are there, at least a plurality of them are probably, Trump was not their first choice.

I met two women and one guy from New York the other night who said they’d been with him since the beginning. You don’t find many of those people in that crowd down there

So you’re right. It’s been quieter, it’s been more tepid, it’s been more chaotic than recent political conventions, but it’s not nearly as violent or as chaotic as it was in 1968 or in 1972 or 1976. But if you’re looking at years since, this was the most chaotic, disorganized and somewhat deflated national political convention we’ve seen. Because there’s still a lot of doubt that he can do this. And if you look at polling, he’s not pulling away from Clinton. He’s not helping candidates further down the ballot that are running for Congress or for governor or for mayor. So there’s still a lot of concern that he’ll be able to pull it off, which is why the stakes are so high for Mr. Pence tonight, and astronomical for Trump tomorrow night.

QUESTION: Iiyama from Japan. Yomiuri Shimbun.

Just one question. What do you think, that Trump’s Republican party is a deviation or a long-term trend from now?

MR O’KEEFE: I wish I knew. I think we will see, if he wins, I think you’ll see a lot of people in both parties, frankly, start to run that way. Outspoken with a smaller footprint or a smaller staff. But remember, he had the right mixture. He’s someone who had near-universal name recognition, who was known to be widely successful, who was known to be outspoken. He really hasn’t changed the way he behaves by any means over the course of this. So, I suppose, will we see more authenticity from politicians if he wins? We should always hope we’ll see more authenticity. But probably we will for electoral reasons if he’s able to pull it off. If he doesn’t win, I think you will very quickly see what’s left of the Republican party make very clear, as they tried to do in 2012, that that’s just not the way they’re going to do it anymore. By that I mean tone, style, you know, and the policies that he embraced, especially when it comes to minorities and immigrants.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Cedric. I’m from Belgium, as well. I work for the newspaper called the Nieuwsblad. It sounds exotic but it means ‘the newspaper,’ actually.

It’s my very first convention here. Could you compare this convention with conventions from before, just to make us know how divided on the level that how divided this party is right now?

MR O’KEEFE: Have you all been in there at one point or another in the last two nights? Or if you go intonight. The floor is one thing. Look at the next level up and then look at the level above that, and you’re going to notice that most of those seats are empty. That’s not normal. And it’s not normal for Trump in any case, in any arena that he’s been to because he’s been able to pack arenas across this country all year long.

The reason that’s not happening is because so many Republican elected officials didn’t come, so their supporters didn’t come, their staff didn’t come, their family didn’t come to fill those seats. And then we know that a lot of corporations and association groups and lobbyist and interest groups that would normally come to these things are not here. They’re not spending money; they’re not holding parties. So they’re not filling the seats, either.

It will be very interesting to see next week where we are led to believe that they would, you know, that they could easily fill an arena for Hillary Clinton. So what you’re seeing is not normal compared to recent years where you can easily fill a room and where you see much more enthusiasm.

I was struck last night, I don’t know if any of you were in there when he appeared via video from Trump Tower. Normally, and I can remember this in 2004 at the Boston Garden with John Kerry; I can remember it in 2008 in Denver; and I can remember it in 2012 with Romney, or no, in 2008 with Romney. Any site of the nominee is deafening or should spark a deafening roar. And I remember in the case in 2004 with Kerry, the building shook. I mean that was partly because I was sitting up where you guys would be, sort of higher up than down on the floor. But that’s usually the kind of response you get. And this, you just haven’t seen it. Because these aren’t his people. These aren’t his fans. So it is markedly different. And I can say that, having been to six of them. I think in talking to some of my colleagues who have been to at least a dozen, they would tell you much the same, that this is a much more deflated crowd than we’re used to seeing.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Jackie from Vienna.

I have a question on Trump’s choice for Mike Pence as VP. Do you think that that was a right, a good choice? And how can Pence help him on his way to the White House?

MR O’KEEFE: We believe that the choice was made to shore up support among Republicans themselves. Again, all those people who are skeptical of Trump and who don’t think he’s conservative enough, don’t think he’s been a proper Republican, because Pence is. He has been a loyal and devout social conservative, fiscal conservative. He voted for the war in Iraq. He supported the trade deal with the Pacific Rim countries, which is essentially what most Republicans have been doing and embracing up until Trump you know, emerged. So it’s a safe choice and it’s a base-building choice. It does probably very little, if anything, to expand his appeal to swing voters or to minorities. Usually the vice presidential pick doesn’t give you much of a change anyway, but if you didn’t like Trump before because you’re not a Republican and you just don’t like his style, it’s unlikely that Pence really brings anything new to do that.

But, look, Republicans who are here think it’s great. If you’re going to pick somebody who’s a good loyal Republican foot soldier, he’s the kind of guy you want to pick. I think many would have preferred that he went with someone like Christie or with Gingrich, but that’s partly because they just have a better personality. Look, Trump has plenty of personality. He doesn’t need to worry about that.

The other benefit is that Pence served in Congress and then ran a state, and that’s a good combination of political experience that we’ve seen before in running mates.

QUESTION: My name is Silvia. I work for Radio France International, the Spanish Service.

I have a question for you. In your opinion, what would be the right strategy for Trump to win the election? His current weakness is that he needs to address to win.

MR O’KEEFE: It wouldn’t hurt to be a little more humble, to apologize a bit for what he has said or done, because I think a lot of what is bothering people is just the way that he projects himself. I’m no political consultant, but I think if you look at what people are concerned about, it’s the tone, it’s the proposal to build walls and keep people out and that kind of sort of is just not seen as, by many people, as appropriate for somebody who wants to be president of this country.

So, humility. And if he were to stand up there tomorrow night and say look, for this, this, this, this, and this, I’m genuinely sorry, that would be one thing. But next week, he’d have to say it again. Let me reiterate, that for this, this, and this, I really am sorry and I am no longer going to do that. That might start to get people to think. But then he wouldn’t be Donald Trump. Because he’s be twisting to meet political needs, and he’s not been known to do that.

At this point, if he keeps the course he’s on, it will be very difficult for him to reverse course with people who don’t like him. Unless, given how unpopular she is, she starts to do something or say something or something happens to her that causes her numbers to drop and people go well, okay, fine, maybe he is the better option.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Robert Poredos from Slovenia Press Agency.

After listening to the speakers for two days, I’ve got to ask you this. Do you think facts do matter? And if they don’t, why not?

MR O’KEEFE: I hope they do. I think we all should. It’s hard to know. I don’t think it seems to matter among his most devoted followers, for whatever reason, and that’s because they just don’t like us, and by ‘us,’ I mean the press. And you know, all we can do is keep reporting facts and calling it out because that’s what we’re supposed to do and that’s what we’ve always done. You know, we can say it’s the internet’s fault. We could say it’s, you know, people don’t like politics. I think every public institution in this country is under fire right now. I know a lot of European countries are dealing with this, as well. We’re the biggest, most high profile example of it, but you know, we’ve been through periods like this in the past and we’ll see where it goes. But as far as I’m concerned, facts still matter and we’re going to report facts.

QUESTION: My name is Ben Bangoura, Washington-based [inaudible], the editor of [inaudible].com.

I was wondering if you could comment a little bit on the speech given Monday by Melania Trump. How damaging is that story to the long term surviving of this campaign?

MR O’KEEFE: I think it’s been a very good week for Michelle Obama, because even in the statement that was issued today, the ghostwriter of the speech now admits that she was involved in this and then had the discussions with Mrs. Trump. In that statement she says Mrs. Trump is a big fan of Mrs. Obama. So, if anyone’s doing well this week, it’s her.

We’ll see. I think we sometimes, especially as print journalist, fail to appreciate the power of the visual image, and I think the more and more that her image plays on television, there’s a certain segment of voters who are reminded that he has a beautiful, confident wife who delivered a speech incredibly well and powerfully on her husband’s behalf. And I also think there’s some sympathy for her, that she was put out there being someone who has never done that before, doesn’t like doing it, doesn’t campaign with him that often for that very reason, and then has it happen to her. So I think she, like many other political spouses, may ultimately be seen as a sympathetic figure. Whether it move the needle and makes him more popular, we’re not going to really be able to measure that probably for another ten days or so until after Mrs. Clinton’s convention.

Ask yourself exactly two weeks from now, what do you remember about the Republican convention? If it’s Mrs. Trump‘s speech, great. Does that change your opinion of Mr. Trump? Polling will probably show us that at some point.

But I think the fact that you saw today the campaign come out and try to clarify this and try to put it to bed, 38 hours after she gave her speech, is a signal that they’re still struggling to adapt and to sort of be able to say with some humility, that a mistake was made. We’re sorry for it. And then move on.

QUESTION: [Hindustan Times]. Another question.

In your experience have you seen any other candidate nominee bank on his or her family so much as Trump? He has left out only Barron, I think, who is a kid. But everyone else has been paraded out or will be on stage. And how is it playing out for him?

MR O’KEEFE: We’re not going to know that for a while. I think if you look at social media, if you look at the news coverage, people have said that that the kids did a very nice job last night, probably will do so again tonight. And, generally, they’ve been received very well by the American public. I think there’s no doubt that people consider Trump to be a good father. And the story that is known about how he got them into the business. That they went out to Queens, and they were working on construction equipment and they learned how to drive all that construction equipment before they ever stepped foot in the executive suite. You know, they earn their way up. It’s a story that a lot of Americans would appreciate and respect and look at those kids. As far as we know, they’re not plagued by scandal of any kind. They seem to be upstanding citizens and loyal children to their devoted father.

And they held together through three marriages, because the older children are all from his first marriage. So they’ve been received pretty well. But we won’t be able to really measure that until later.

The only other ones I can think of that have relied on their family to this extent, probably, whether we liked it or not, was George W. Bush. Because of his father. There were comparisons, certainly. Jeb Bush struggled with that in the past year. And I think Obama, too, given that he was going to bring young children back into the White House for the first since the 1960’s, sort of indirectly was using his daughters as a signal that this is indeed changed. This is a youthful figure who is a young father with an impressive and intelligent and beautiful wife. That image of the four of them, certainly the [inaudible], and during his convention, was quite powerful. The idea of having young children in the country’s house was appealing to a lot of people, or they liked the idea of that. And we’re not going to get that this time. We get grandparents, I suppose, but we’ve had grandparents in the White House before.

We’ll see. I suspect we may see a slight uptick in how people perceive Trump’s personality or character, just based on the children and Mrs. Trump’s speech. Whether it’s a huge bump remains to be seen, but you usually see a little bit of a bump no matter what, just given that people get a chance to learn a little bit more about them.

MODERATOR: Great. Thank you so much.

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