Conservative marketing strategist Matthew Palumbo appeared on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon to talk about his recent column, “The 5 Stages of Political Death By Donald Trump.”
“We started to look at the phenomenon of Donald Trump, and how he’s dealt with his opponents through this whole process,” said Palumbo. “Essentially, what we were able to do – whether it was Jeb Bush, or Marco Rubio, or lastly Senator Cruz – is, each of these opponents sort of go through five states, and we’re seeing a lot of similarities with how the Democrats and Hillary are looking at Trump right now.”
“The first stage is, you underestimate Trump,” he explained. “The second is, you sort of placate him. I say in the column, you stay out of his gaze, you use words like, ‘Well, I couldn’t care less about Trump.’ You kind of just ignore him.”
“And then when you figure out that you can’t do that, then you try to manipulate Trump with these outside, external forces,” Palumbo continued. “Hyperbolic labeling, the KKK attacks were an example of this.”
The fourth stage is frustration, where Palumbo said Trump critics “just can’t believe that the first three stages haven’t worked,” and begin grumbling about “low-information voters,” asking questions like, “How can people be so dumb, to support Trump?”
“Definitely Senator Cruz fell into that,” judged Palumbo, a grassroots conservative activist who has worked with groups like Citizens United, and was an early Cruz supporter.
“And then the final stage is full-blown furor, unadulterated hate,” he concluded. “Whether you’re Jeb Bush, or Marco Rubio – where he went on that three- or four-day period where he just really changed how he had campaigned all those years, where he got into the insults. You start to make rash, reckless decisions.”
Palumbo said this happened with Cruz as well. “You get desperate, and then you combine that with the unorthodoxy, the unpredictability of the campaign of Trump. There’s no playbook. These guys just don’t know how to handle it. And then you start to make these reckless decisions, like making deals with Kasich, which was a total disaster.”
He thought the political damage from these reckless decisions was especially severe because it reinforced the impression that Trump was the dominant figure in the campaign, and the other candidates were constantly reacting to him.
Palumbo suspected Hillary Clinton was currently “somewhere vacillating between Stages One through Three” of the five stages of Trump destruction.
“I think that she is underestimating him, and I think you underestimate Trump at your own peril. I really do,” he said.
“You guys had the biggest story in the last thirty days of American politics, the analysis that Boyle and Badolato did with the numbers – which are just huge – which tracks the surge in voting, from the Mitt Romney numbers of 2012 until now,” said Palumbo, referring to a Breitbart News piece from Wednesday by Matt Boyle and Andy Badolato.
“So anybody who says that Trump doesn’t have a chance is just not paying attention. They’re in denial, and they’re not looking at those numbers. I would say they’re in Stage One, where they’re just underestimating Donald Trump.”
Palumbo agreed with radio host Rush Limbaugh’s statement on Wednesday that he had a “gut feeling” Trump could defeat Hillary Clinton in a “landslide.”
“I’m right there,” he said. “Just looking at these numbers, what I see in Donald Trump and his apparatus – the guy that doesn’t get enough credit is really Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager – they’re building, they’re ascending, they’re improving as a candidate.”
He said the shift in voter preferences, combined with how Trump was able to vanquish his primary opponents, “lends itself to a very successful campaign, in my estimation.”
“The key thing for Trump moving forward is to build this coalition,” Palumbo advised. “You have four wings of the Republican Party right now. You have the Trump wing. You have the Ted Cruz – I would say Ted Cruz/Mike Lee wing – which is made up of a lot of the NeverTrump people. You have the Establishment wing, with the Wisconsin crowd of Chairman Priebus, Paul Ryan, I would put Fox News in that wing. You have the movement conservative wing, which is led by guys like Bossie, and Ron Robinson, Brent Bozell.”
“And then you have Trump. And I think the confidence he’s beginning to build in these numbers – again, I come back to these numbers that you guys are reporting, and really I’m surprised nobody else is, that Badolato put together. It’s really building confidence, and there’s a bandwagon effect,” he said. “People love to be part of a winner. And I think as Trump becomes more confident, and they have their footing, people in those different wings of the Party – and as they send emissaries to broaden their coalition, they’re going to prove to be successful. And I think they’re going to build this coalition heading into Cleveland.”
“Obviously, the big pick is going to be, to bring people into the fold, V.P. I would see that’s going to be a huge decision, maybe more so than normal, to really check all the boxes of those different wings,” Palumbo predicted.
Contrary to conventional wisdom that Trump is doomed in the general election, Palumbo declared that “Donald Trump is Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare.”
“Hillary Clinton is a very rigid, not very nimble politician,” he explained. “He’s not running against Bill Clinton. He’s running against Hillary Clinton.”
He also noted her 2016 apparatus is devoid of talent like James Carville, Paul Begala, and David Plouffe, who have engineered previous Democrat victories.
“There’s no playbook to run against Donald Trump,” Palumbo emphasized again. “Larry Sabato is not teaching classes over at UVA on how to handle Donald Trump. They’re not giving sessions at CPAC. It’s just such a totally different animal – the unpredictability, the unorthodoxy. And yeah, he’s gonna ‘go places.’ He’s gonna talk about things that nobody else will.”
He anticipated Trump would give Hillary Clinton a “much tougher race than Rick Lazio or John Spencer, who she ran against in New York.”
“I feel very confident that Trump can do a very good job to build this coalition, and really, it could be a great win for the Republican Party,” said Palumbo.