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The top strategist for Donald Trump’s short-lived super-PAC says the Republican frontrunner does not want to become president — and that he had launched his “protest” bid for the GOP nomination simply to prove a point: that he could come close.
“Almost a year ago,” Stephanie Cegielski writes in an lengthy letter to Trump supporters published by the website XOjane.com, “I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it.”
Cegielski, former communications director for the Make America Great Again super-PAC, says the expectations for the real estate mogul’s campaign were incredibly low.
“The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12 percent and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50 percent,” Cegielski writes. “His candidacy was a protest candidacy. It pains me to say, but he is the presidential equivalent of Sanjaya on ‘American Idol.’ President Trump would be President Sanjaya in terms of legitimacy and authority. I am now taking full responsibility for helping create this monster — and reaching out directly to those voters who, like me, wanted Trump to be the real deal.”
Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, dismissed Cegielski’s assertions:
This person was never employed by the Trump campaign. Evidently she worked for a Super PAC which Mr. Trump disavowed and requested the closure of via the FEC. She knows nothing about Mr. Trump or the campaign and her disingenuous and factually inaccurate statements in no way resemble any shred of truth. This is yet another desperate person looking for their fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is running for President because he is the only one who will Make America Great Again.
Cegielski, who began working for the Trump-connected PAC last summer, said she was inspired by Trump’s performance during the first Republican debate in Cleveland, where he sparred with Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
Stephanie Cegielski says the Republican frontrunner had no real interest in becoming president. (Photo: XOJane)
“The exchange with Megyn Kelly was like manna from heaven for a communications director,” she writes. “She appeared like yet another reporter trying to kick out the guest who wasn’t invited to the party. At the time, I felt excited for the change to the debate he could bring. I began realizing the man really resonates with the masses and would bring people to the process who had never participated before. That was inspiring to me.”
But the inspiration was short-lived.
“It wasn’t long before every day I awoke to a buzzing phone and a shaking head because Trump had said something politically incorrect the night before,” Cegielski writes.
Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Arizona in March. (Photo: Matt York/AP)
Inside the campaign, staffers had a slogan for dealing with the brash billionaire’s belligerent interviews: “Let Trump Be Trump.”
Yet, to Cegielski’s amazement, Trump’s steady rise in the polls continued.
“I don’t think even Trump thought he would get this far,” she continues. “And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all. He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters.”
Cegielski says she was particularly dismayed by Trump’s blustery response to the recent terror attacks in Brussels and Pakistan.
Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead,400 injured. I alone can solve
“A devastating terrorist attack in Pakistan targeting Christians occurred on Easter Sunday,” she writes, “and Trump’s response was to tweet.”
Take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous, cartoonish, almost childish arrogance of saying that he alone can solve. Does Trump think that he is making a cameo on Wrestlemania (yes, one of his actual credits)? This is not how foreign policy works. For anyone. Ever. Superhero powers where “I alone can solve” problems are not real. They do not exist for Batman, for Superman, for Wrestlemania and definitely not for Donald Trump.
“He doesn’t want the White House,” Cegielski writes. “He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House.”
After the super-PAC was disbanded in October — a decision consistent in keeping with Trump’s “outsider” persona — Cegielski remained a supporter of his campaign. But she slowly realized Trump the candidate was really Trump the reality-show character.
“I wanted Trump to be real, too. He is not,” she writes. “I began to hear and evaluate him more critically and skeptically as a member of the voting public rather than a communications person charged with protecting his positions.”
“I no longer felt that he was the leader the country was looking for, and I found myself longing — aching, really — for policy substance that went beyond building a wall and making Mexico pay for it,” Cegielski continues. “What were once bold — although controversial — statements now seemed to be attempts to please the crowds, not direction to lead this country to a better place.”
Just as troubling for Trump’s former adviser was his arrogant unaccountability:
When there was a tweet that contained an error, he would blame it on an intern; when there was a photo containing a World War II Nazi Germany background, he would blame it on an intern; when he answered questions in an overtly controversial fashion, he would claim he did not properly hear the question. He refused to take responsibility for his actions while frequently demanding apologies from others.
Cegielski is now urging Trump’s supporters not to elevate him to the world’s most powerful position: U.S. commander in chief.
“Don’t let our country pay that price,” she writes.