CNN's Cuomo: Bannon Makes Manafort “Look Like A Puppy” And Lewandowski “Like A Kitten”

From the August 17 edition of CNN's New Day

Video file

CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): Corey Lewandowski. Bringing in Bannon, Breitbart, Citizens United, doing things with Dave Bossie there, ad work. This guy makes [Paul] Manafort look like a puppy, makes you look like a kitten. Breitbart has writers who call CNN Hitler. They are the most ham-fisted, fringe, fight, fight, fight -- say whatever you have to say. Bringing him into the campaign, a surprise to you? 

COREY LEWANDOWSKI: No, I think what you have is you've got a candidate who wants to win. This is a clear indication of that. If you look at Steven Bannon, and what they built at Breitbart, it's win at all costs. I think that makes some people on the left very afraid because they're willing to say and do things that others in the mainstream media wouldn't do. They've attacked the mainstream media on multiple occasions. And so what they are willing to say and do, I think right now that's the type of mindset the campaign wants to prove to the Clinton people, that they're going to take this fight directly to her, and that's what he's going to bring to the campaign.

CUOMO: Yeah, but how matters. This is part of the criticism. I'll tell you who's not afraid of this: Begala. Because if you do it by lying and you do it by saying things are wrong, by being crude and mean, you're actually playing into his weaknesses, not his strengths. How do you view it? Are you afraid? They're going to take it to her, he's going to take it to her twice as much as he has and it's going to get personal. 

PAUL BEGALA: First off, I'm always up for new deck chairs on the Trumptanic. OK and that's what this is. The problem is Donald Trump. It was never Corey. It's not Mr. Manafort. It's not these new people. It's the candidate, stupid. Corey didn't go to Donald Trump. I know, believe me. He's too nice. He didn't go to Trump and say, “Hey, I have a good idea, let's attack POWs.” Manafort didn't say, “Let's attack a gold star family.” This is Trump. And Trump's problem, I can tell you this, I know this because I'm advising a super PAC that's attacking him. If you did a word cloud of people's descriptions of Trump and concerns, the biggest word would be temperament, not just because it's three syllables. Because they worry that he doesn't have the character, judgment, temperament to be president. If in fact this new team is a bunch of flame throwers, like you say, I don't know most of them, that's going to worsen his problem, not make it better. He needs to bring his team together and say, “Look, I know I have my base, your job is to get me voters I don't already have” . And I don't think that Roger Ailes from Fox News or this guy from Breitbart, very successful, but they're successful in the same pool of voters that Trump already has. 

CUOMO: Right, but Bannon and Ailes are very different animals in terms of where they come from and their level of sophistication. The good news may be, Corey, Kellyanne Conway. She's the pollster there now. She in her new role, as we understand it, will travel with Trump. Big sacrifice for her, you know she's got young kids. So she's going to be with him. That may help leaven this because he's going to have a seasoned pro with him whose instinct is always decency, always how to be your best and more effective. Might that balance it out?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look it's very important that Kellyanne is with him as often as possible. Number one, it's a woman and he needs a high-profile woman in a senior role there that he can listen to and understand what the gender gap is right now. She's going to help with that. She's an excellent person when it comes to message development. She's done this for a long time. She has a very successful polling company. She also brings a sense of calmness to Donald Trump. She understands that when things are fired up, she has this calming effect on him and allows him to manage and message him in a way he wants to do it and he's comfortable with, not trying to tell him what to say, but highlighting some of the message points that are going to resonate better with specific audience she's going to talk to. So her being on the plane is something I think that's been lacking which is that senior leadership on the plane for the last two months.

CUOMO: So you see this as kind of like a check and balance. Because bringing in Breitbart, you know, is a decidedly thing. You know what? And we're going to see it in minutes. Because they will start putting out attack pieces on me and on this show and on this. And you'll see exactly what their full flavor is. And then on the other side, you have somebody who does not play that way. Kellyanne has been very effective, but not that way. No concern from you about Trump doubling down on being all out, scorched earth, attacking Clinton?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't think that's what it is though. I think that what you have is he's building up that leadership team. He wants to have people around him who want to win at all costs -- 

CUOMO: What does that mean, at all costs?

LEWANDOWSKI: You know what I think it is? I think you have with Donald Trump a person who wants to be true to himself. That got him through primary process, by being true to himself. And now what you've seen over the last 60 days is his poll numbers have deteriorated following the Republican convention. Some of that has been blamed on the fact that people continue to tell him to do things that he doesn't feel comfortable doing. He wants to remain true to himself. You saw him say yesterday,  “I'm not going to pivot, I'm going to be the same Donald Trump.” You know what? That's the right thing to do when you're running for office. You want to tell the people who you are and let them make the decision when they go to the ballot box. Do they support or oppose you? That's what the American public is all about. 

CUOMO: He was whooping up on Hillary Clinton in polls early on when he was in his most fullsome representation of himself. Could he return to that?

BEGALA: When he's his true self is when he attacks a man's disability. When he's his true self is when he mocks a POW. When he's his true self is when he attacks the entire immigrant population or the entire Muslim faith. That, it seems to me, is the real Donald Trump that voters are seeing. And a staff shake-up doesn't cure that. It might even worsen it. That's the real Donald Trump. People keep saying, when is he going to get back on message and get off of the hateful division? The hateful division is the message. 


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