I recently interviewed Dick Morris, a Republican political adviser who joined the Clinton administration and against formidable odds enabled Bill Clinton to earn his second term. Hillary Clinton said, “Over the course of the first nine months of 1995, no single person had more power over the President” than Morris.
He has just published The Return: Trump’s Big 2024 Comeback. The lives of Dick Morris and Donald Trump had been intertwined since Trump's early years as a New York City real estate developer, and they have been in close contact since the 2020 election. Dick has co-authored with his wife Eileen McGann over 20 books – 13 of which have been New York Times bestsellers.
While our time was limited, Morris packed more insight into 15 minutes and 5 questions than most guests give in a full hour.
1. Are you developing a specialty of helping elect a President as a “Comeback Kid” every couple of decades?
Not really, I haven't changed my ideas much. The Democratic Party has changed. I used to be on the 50 yard line – now I’m all the way in the endzone, the party's moved so far to the left. Some of the policies I most like about Trump were policies that Clinton did.
But the purpose of my book is to help people supporting Trump understand what we're up against. The Democrats have largely abandoned the thought that they can defeat Trump at the polls. So they've decided to resort to judicial means, not political means, to keep him from the White House.
That's what the Mar a Lago raid is all about. It's an attempt to find evidence to indict Trump, with the hope that it knocks him out of the race, or even makes it illegal for him to run for president. They hoped to find documents implicating him in the January 6 riot, saying that this was an insurrection against the American government, [so they can] invoke the 14th Amendment, which says you can't hold public office if you were engaged in insurrection against the government.
It's a terrifying game because it really means that that we can't select our president by democratic means. It has to be a battle in court.
Republicans identified the court as the most valuable branch of government to capture beginning in the 1970s, with the Federalist Society, etc.
Are the Democrats simply envious of how effective this strategy has been, and imitating it?
It's more than a question of whether the court leans left or right – it's a question of what you're using the courts for. It's one thing to litigate issues like abortion, or reapportionment, or criminal justice, but to attempt to manipulate the courts to try to stop a former President from running again, and deny almost 100 million people the man they voted for is just outrageous.
They are trying to say that this riot on January 6, was the first unarmed insurrection in world history – that these folks were not just venting steam, but were actually trying to take over the American government, without a gun, without a rifle, without a cannon.
You acknolwedge that, by a count, Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, but you describe a subtle strategy the Democrats effectively used, involving the almost invisible office of Secretary of State, to win the election.
Nobody pays any attention to this office of Secretary of Sate. It’s only important job is to supervise elections. In 2018, the Democratic Party made sure to overthrow Republican Secretaries of State in the swing states, particularly Arizona and Michigan, and they elected real leftists to those jobs, who claim that photo IDs and signature verification were simply methods of excluding people from voting.
In my view, [eliminating these safeguards] opens the door wide to voter fraud.
There’s a case called Moore v. Harper working its way to the Supreme Court, and it will hold that only the state legislatures can control the the election procedures – to support the Constitution that ti’mes, manners, and places of holding elections for Congress shall be determined by the state legislatures.
We have five swing states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Minnesota – with Republican legislators which have passed very good laws (identical to the ones that are now in effect in Georgia, Florida, and Arizona) that prohibit dropboxes, require signature verification, and require photo identification to register and vote. However, the Democratic governors in those states have vetoed those bills.
Moore v. Harper would strip the governors of their right to veto those bills, and make it so that the state legislatures alone would make that determination. That would basically eliminate the problem of electoral fraud in the ‘24 election.
What does it mean that Trump is a “hybrid candidate”?
Well, it's a little bit like a Toyota hybrid. It's half one thing and half the other.
He's half incumbent, and he's half challenger. Like a challenger, he’ll go around complaining about high gas prices, inflation, the open border, etc. But the normal response of an incumbent to a challenger is “how do we know you can do any better?”
Trump's response is, “I did it already.” He’s a former incumbent.
He can say, “Look at my record and compare it with Biden's. If you doubt we can hold down gas prices, they were $1.80 when I was President. Inflation was under 2%. If you doubt we can seal the border, I did it, and we had almost no illegal immigration.”
That’s hybrid – that ability to say, “I did it already,” and to be in part an incumbent and in part challenger gives Trump some unique things to say to the voters when he runs in 2024.
You say with confidence that Trump will run in 2024. How will 2024 be different than 2020?
For those who feel that Trump was too acerbic, or his Tweets were offensive, you have Joe Biden to compare him to.
Which would you rather have: 10% inflation, $5 gas, mounting unemployment, Russia invading Ukraine, China threatening Taiwan, Iran about to develop nuclear weapons unless we pay them $1 trillion over the course of the next decades, or would you rather have that was somebody that sends offensive Tweets?
Also, you can't pocket the results of Trump's persona and diss this means that got you there. Washington is a tough place, and nice guys don't hack it there.
If Trump would not pass he is he never could have accomplished everything he's done. Nice guys finish last, as Leo Durocher said.
Take Kim Jong Un. A couple of months into the presidency of Trump's presidency, Kim Jong Ung said, “I have a button that can blow up America.”
And then Trump shot back, “Hey buster, I have a bigger button than you do.”
That intimidated Kim and he never said a word for three and a half years. Then as soon as Trump leaves office, he begins testing missiles and bombs again. Putin didn't dare invade Ukraine, because of because of Trump's personality, and what he knew Trump could do. That's a necessary ingredient in being Donald Trump.