Parscale: Somebody Dropped The Ball On Preventing Election Fraud, New Team "Diverged" From My Plan | Video | RealClearPolitics

Parscale: Somebody Dropped The Ball On Preventing Election Fraud, New Team "Diverged" From My Plan


Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale sits down with Martha MacCallum for his first interview since leaving the campaign. Parscale praised Jared Kushner and called him the real campaign manager of the 2016 election. Parscale said Tuesday that the two continued to work in 2020 and after he left the campaign and Bill Stepien stepped in, his team "diverged" from the original campaign plan.

Parscale also praised Trump as a man who exposes the unfairness in politics everywhere. Parscale said "D" level people around Trump were yes-men and he was the one telling him the truth and "paid the price for it."

The former campaign manager said there is a "chance" that Trump "could still win," saying he is not satisfied that this was a fair election. Parscale also laid out what he thought went wrong in the election and how the White House mishandled the coronavirus crisis by not showing "empathy."

"Keep fighting. Don't give up. Don't give up. The country needs you," Parscale said to the president.

Transcript below.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  After months of silence, tonight, President Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tells his side of the story.
He was once hailed the digital genius behind Trump's upset victory in 2016. Parscale claims that he was on track for an even bigger victory in 2020. But all that changed this summer, amid a flurry of questions about his campaign spending and a tense confrontation with the president over falling poll numbers. Soon after, he was replaced by deputy campaign manager Bill Stepien, a man he hired.
And we all watched as his personal struggles spilled into public view in a domestic incident that revealed the strain.
Tonight, Parscale returns to television to tell his side of the story, what he thinks went wrong inside the Trump campaign and what led to his now infamous run-in with the police.
And he makes a startling admission about his last conversation with president -- with President Trump.
Here now, my exclusive interview with former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.
I always had a lot of confidence in our plan. And I think the president and Jared had a lot of confidence in the plan. And it was unfortunate that we diverged from the plan right as we came down the stretch.
But I think the -- look, I think the president is still clearly in a position that he might be able to pull this off. And I'm not ready to call it off yet, because I think it's weird. I just think it's still weird that things like, in Pennsylvania, votes keep coming in day after day after day after day. Arizona, every two hours, the votes kept coming in.
But states like -- that had it really organized, Florida and Ohio, easily pulled away. And so I still think there's something to look at there. I'm not satisfied that this was a fair election.
MACCALLUM:  You said, "We had a plan."
PARSCALE:  We had a plan.
MACCALLUM:  "Me, the president, Jared, and we -- it was diverged from at the end."
Obviously, you left finally in -- first in the summer, and then finally--
PARSCALE:  I was removed.
MACCALLUM:  -- in September.
PARSCALE:  I was removed.
MACCALLUM:  You were removed.
How did you feel about that?
PARSCALE:  I mean, I was hurt. I mean, that's an obvious sign now that I was hurt.
I didn't get a warning sign really that -- no one asked me to change my plan. No one asked me to do anything different. I don't know exactly why I was removed and why, all of the sudden, we had to challenge the plan.
I have a lot of thoughts of why I think that is. But they paused the plan, eventually went back to it. But we had a plan. I had -- I had a lot of -- I had had a lot of time to plan. And in '16, people don't like to admit it, but I was a semi-quasi-campaign manager.
Never got to say that publicly before, because I couldn't. Jared was the real campaign manager. I was the one doing the day-to-day. And we won. And it really didn't make sense to me why, in '20, they had to change away from that.
MACCALLUM:  Are you talking about 2016?
PARSCALE:  2016.
I'm saying I never really got to say what I really did. I never really got to say I was the semi-quasi-campaign manager. Everyone got to say, oh, Brad didn't have the experience, but I'd already won an election.
MACCALLUM:  Kellyanne was the campaign manager, no?
PARSCALE:  Yes, I think that was her title.
But I think the people running the day-to-day operation were Jared and I. And I think that it didn't make sense why you would pull that team away to -- if you're getting close to 2020.
MACCALLUM:  So, you say, "We had a plan."
What was the plan? Articulate it.
PARSCALE:  Well, that's -- I mean, that's going to take a book to articulate the whole plan. It's a big campaign. It's a billion-dollar operation.
But we understood where the weakness is, where we need to pick up the votes. We understood what Election Day operations need to look like because of the legal fight. We planned that fight out two years in advance. I understood that this was going to happen. My team understood it was going to happen.
We had a plan to increase the Latino and black vote, which we did. We had a plan to try to keep the suburban housewives. We had a lot of plans. And we knew exactly what the path was to victory. COVID threw a wrench in it. But we still had a plan even through that.
MACCALLUM:  Biden bested Hillary in 373 suburban counties in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona.
So, apparently, they had a plan too.
PARSCALE:  I agree.
MACCALLUM:  And it involved very little campaigning and very little door-knocking.
So, a lot of folks look at the 80 million votes that Joe Biden got, and they say, how did he do that?
PARSCALE:  Yes. Well, we will see exactly how that vote count goes out.
But I knew -- and my plan tried to make this a choice election, not a referendum. And I think that was one of the biggest disputes within the campaign. I knew that, if it was a choice, with the president with COVID, and the economy, the president with his policies vs. Biden -- I tested 140-plus policies against Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump.
Trump bested him in 139 with the American people. They knew the president's policies are what they wanted. The issue was how to keep this as a choice election, Joe Biden's America and going back, that he somehow could do this better, which I don't think he can, or Donald Trump, who had made America better and his policies, and make sure it didn't end up a referendum on him.
MACCALLUM:  What was wrong with the plan from the point you left and Stepien took over?
What changed? What was wrong?
PARSCALE:  I'm not going to put the blame on any one person. These were the people I hired. Everybody that ended up running the campaign were my deputies.
But I think what occurred -- and I don't know exactly why -- and I -- and this is why I started to really have a hard time, is because I tried to stay. I tried to stay on to make sure the plan kept going. Like, I will take a lesser position, because I love Donald Trump. I mean, he's like family to me. That whole family is my family.
And I want nothing more than him to win. I want nothing more than this country to progress the way it was.
But they paused. They didn't know my plan. They didn't know to execute it or not. And they started to diverge away from it. And they started to test it. Should we use data like this? Should we buy TV like this? Should we run this? Should we do this? Should we even work with the RNC?
Which I think were crucial mistakes, and I could name crucial mistakes. I just -- I don't understand why, because the president should have won by a lot more. He shouldn't be fighting. And I still think he might pull this off, which will be -- I give it 100 percent credit to him if he pulls it off.
MACCALLUM:  When you were sitting at home in Florida during the last few months of the campaign--
MACCALLUM:  -- what's going through your mind? You're watching the rallies all across the country during the middle of COVID.
PARSCALE:  I'm watching this off TV.
MACCALLUM:  You're watching the fact that they are pulling ads from swing states. You're hearing complaints that the campaign has run out of money. And, in fact, those complaints are leveled at you for front-loading the spending too much, $10 million on a Super Bowl ad, all of that.
MACCALLUM:  So, defend that.
MACCALLUM:  And tell me what they did wrong.
PARSCALE:  Well, first of all, let's defend the budget stuff.
It was only $5 million on a Super Bowl ad. We end up only going with a 30-second ad. And it was a great ad. And--
MACCALLUM:  But you didn't need an ad at that point, if you didn't have a candidate opposite him at that point.
PARSCALE:  Well, let's put it this way.
In February of 2020, before COVID, the president in all of our polling was winning by 400-some electoral votes. The Super Bowl ad, in itself, paid for itself two times over, meaning our fan -- or his fan base, his voting base, was so excited that he went up on the Super Bowl, the game they watch, they donated tens of millions of dollars to it.
So you got to understand, not every dollar I spent was all done just as electioneering. It's also, how do we raise more money? How do we keep our fan base going even stronger? How does the voter -- how does the voter get even more excited? How does the -- how do we keep them fund-raising the biggest campaign in history and what we were going to do?
At that point, he was killing Joe Biden, 400 electoral votes. It was going to be the biggest landslide in American history since Nixon at that point. And we knew we wanted to win the black vote. Jared and I and the president sat down and said, what is the best thing we can do with the Super Bowl vote?
And we chose to put the Alice Johnson up to show the truth between Donald Trump, who actually did prison reform, and Joe Biden, who put black people in prison.
MACCALLUM:  It was a strong ad, I think, by most accounts, just an unbiased political look at campaign advertising.
PARSCALE:  It was a strong ad, made money -- made money, helped with the black vote. I think those are two goals as me, as a campaign manager.
So, Jared and I never got sideways on a concept. That's why we were such a strong team for a lot of time. And I think the worst thing they ever did was to break us two up. I think that was a decision that will go down, if -- if the president loses, being down to the worst decision.
MACCALLUM:  So, Jared was also sidelined when you were sidelined?
PARSCALE:  This is my opinion. I feel like he was slightly sidelined, not as much as me. But I think he stayed a little hands off. He said, OK.
And I think, since November of 2015, Jared and I talked every single day, and it was in our plan every day, how to use Facebook, what to do. And I think our relationship will go down as one that's pretty amazing in politics.
But it got sidelined this summer. And I don't know why. I have no idea. I have a clue. I do.
MACCALLUM:  And it is?
PARSCALE:  I think it's all the D-level people, all the talking heads that are around the president that had never done anything in their life, never created a business, never built anything successful, but talked themselves into something.
And I think, when the polling numbers were going down, they were in his ear, and I was out working.
MACCALLUM:  There's a story that you have already responded to about him shouting into the phone at you when you presented some pretty unappealing poll numbers back in April.
MACCALLUM:  You want to tell me about that?
PARSCALE:  I didn't like lying to him. I like telling him the truth.
Sometimes, that came with a lot of -- a lot of painful days, after knowing that I might have let him down or made him upset. But a lot of those D-level people that hung around him, they just told him what he wanted to hear. They were yes-men. And I wasn’t going to be a yes-man.
I was going to be a get-it-done man. And I did it for him. I did it for the family. I did it for this country, because I feel like somebody needed to be the one telling him the truth. And I think Jared did too.
I think we both paid the price for that sometimes.
MACCALLUM:  When you say the campaign didn't run out of money, I have heard from several sources in the campaign that they were running low on money, and that they had to make tough choices.
How do you back up the assertion that that's false?
PARSCALE:  Well, I think you look at the FEC reports.
The FEC reports clearly show that -- there have been so many made-up stories. My life the last five years has been made-up story after made-up story after made-up story after crap.
And the truth is, the campaign in 2016, the entire campaign had about 300-some million dollars. We had that in the bank with three months to go, and we were still going to raise another $600 million. They didn't have a money problem. They had a strategy problem. They didn't know what to say.
The easiest one to say is, I don't have the money. And I think they got caught kind of in a catch-22 there, because the FEC reports didn't say that. And I think the final FEC reports, when it's all said and done, and history writes the books, it'll show they didn't have a money problem.
MACCALLUM:  Do you believe that, if you and Jared had remained in charge, the president would have won, right, outright?
PARSCALE:  I don't know -- I don't know if he still will not -- I'm not saying that -- he could still win this.
I think he wins by -- he wins easy. I think he wins by more. I think our plan was just right. And we knew what we were doing. And I think we were fighting a million pressures that are hard to explain.
MACCALLUM:  So, one of the criticisms is that the president's side was basically outgunned legally by the DNC, by all of these lawsuits all across the country that helped to--
PARSCALE:  On Election Day?
MACCALLUM:  -- to expand the voting abilities, change of signature reads, from 60 percent down to 40 percent of a match, all of those cases that happened all across the country that allowed more votes to be accepted, rather than kicked out of the system and rejected.
How significant is that? And is it fair criticism that the Trump side dropped the ball on some of that?
PARSCALE:  In April of 2019, I sat down with my team, and I said, let's come up with the biggest Election Day operation ever, because voter fraud is going to be rampant.
If it's not going to be rampant, everyone's going to think it's rampant. Or they're going to game it. Something's going to happen, because we sat around for two years in 2017, 2018, when they talked all this stuff about all this voter rant, blah, blah, blah, I said, if we win again, they're going to do the same thing.
So, let's make sure we're there. And let's make sure they don't try to steal it from us, make sure -- they're so scared of four more years.
You know, the president always said something to me very interesting. He always says, when the opportunity is right in front of you, you think you can take it, some people just -- they do the wrong thing. He'd say that to me a lot. He taught me a lot of lessons.
And what I mean by that is the people are right there. They know that maybe they can push those extra few votes, and it can be the difference of not four more years of Donald Trump and getting along and telling all their friends that they did it.
I think it's something that was important. So, in April of 2019, I came up with the largest budget ever of Election Day operations, in partnership with the RNC. What that meant was to have lawyers everywhere, file suits beforehand, protect beforehand.
And somehow, between July of 2020 and Election Day, that fell apart. And that's a question. I don't know exactly what the answer is. But, from everything I'm hearing, it did not occur.
And I think that's a travesty to this -- to this campaign. It's a travesty to President Trump. It's a travesty to this republic. And I think that it shouldn't have happened, and I don't know why. And I was trying to do everything I could to keep it from happening.
MACCALLUM:  Who dropped the ball on that?
You have -- obviously, on the Democrats' side, they were pushing full throttle on all of those issues. And I think there's a good argument to be made that that's how they got to 80 million votes out there.
PARSCALE:  I don't--
MACCALLUM:  And I'm not saying that it's anything illegal. I don't know the answer to that.
I mean, we see some of this dead voter.
PARSCALE:  Right. Yes.
MACCALLUM:  We see some of that stuff, which is obviously egregious and needs to be worked out. But it sounds to me like you think that somebody dropped the ball. Who dropped the ball on that side?
PARSCALE:  I can't -- I can't -- if I knew that the name or I knew the people that did it, I would.
I -- something happened between the campaign and the RNC relationship and the deal I had, the deal the way we were going to set it up, the way I thought--
MACCALLUM:  What it have looked like on Election Day under that scenario?
PARSCALE:  I wanted lawyers everywhere. I wanted regional lawyer over staff.
MACCALLUM:  Would you have been able to get them in?
I mean, we--
PARSCALE:  I think we would have filed the lawsuits beforehand.
We would have been asking beforehand. We have been trying to. Why weren't -- during the early voting days, why weren't they already getting into there -- in there and then already filing lawsuits? Why are they not in there? Why do we -- why are we doing it post?
And I think that somebody did drop the ball on that. And I think -- I think, as campaign manager, I wouldn't have been an expert at everything. But I always knew how to sit and ask the questions to everybody.
I would have put the right staff in front of me and said, why are we not doing this? How are we -- every day, I would have said, how are we preventing fraud? How are we preventing that we get beat by the DNC in this?
PARSCALE:  And I don't know if that happened, because I wasn't at the table anymore.
MACCALLUM:  So, the criticism, even before you left in the summer, was that you weren't around, that you were down in Florida, that you weren't in campaign headquarters.
PARSCALE:  I wasn't -- we weren't allowed. Virginia made it illegal to get in the headquarters.
And I had two choices. I could sit in my one-bedroom apartment, my daughter and my wife and my two dogs, or I could go home to Florida and operate in some ease, because we were going all Zoom anyways. And I would fly up and meet the president when I could.
But from -- from -- I was living full-time here on March 13. My home is Florida. That's where I live. I can operate. Name – I still haven’t heard one thing I didn’t get done. The only complaint is -- from all those D-level people around the president is, oh, he's not working hard enough.
Well, guess what? If I can do something in an hour that takes them two months to do, I'm just more talented than them. I can just do it from home.
And when I needed to be up here, I was up here. And, as soon as I could be, I was back. I was here the day the offices reopened. It just -- it's baseless and just unbelievable.
MACCALLUM:  So, the kind of things that we're discussing, in terms of voter irregularities and some of what we have seen on the periphery, is very different from what the president's legal team is now talking about, with these voting changes that happened in the voting systems, and Rudy Giuliani in the cases that he is trying to bring.
They have not had a lot of success with those, but they continue to hold hearings and put out affidavits. What do you think of that move, that push?
PARSCALE:  Well, Rudy and Jenna are friend of mine. I worked with Rudy multiple times. And Jenna obviously worked on my staff.
I disagree with -- with some of the things that are occurring. But do I think the president has every right to understand what happened? I would say all those Republicans right now in Georgia that are angry at the Republican Party, and they want to -- and they're mad, and they don't want to vote, I would do the opposite.
I would stand up and I would say, why don't you two senators make a promise right now that you will push for a Senate investigation from the Judiciary Committee of all the voting issues?
And do that, and I bet you they all those people will show up, because they'd rather have a just answer than just have the Republicans disappear again, because those Democrats didn't disappear when they thought something was wrong.
They terrorized us. So, stand up and find out what really happened. You have the power to do it.
MACCALLUM:  So, you say that you think that the president will still win?
PARSCALE:  I think that there is a -- there's still a chance he could.
PARSCALE:  You never know.
Maybe something comes out in one of these court cases. I don't underestimate Rudy. Sometimes, I watch him on TV, I'm like, whoa.
But, at the same time, like, I mean, the guy's done some amazing things in his life, and I don't want to underestimate people. And if he believes it, then he should go do it. I think that's what this country is about.
And I think the president has a good argument, because it's sad in this country that Republicans say this. If I don't win by more than 2, 3 percent, it will get stolen from me. Do you know how a common a sentence that is I have heard across this country, how many Republicans say that to me in every little race as I travel the country?
They believe that. I tend to believe, when you hear a myth that long, there might be a little bit to it.
MACCALLUM:  When you saw Pennsylvania fall, then Michigan fall, when you saw Wisconsin not go the president's way--
MACCALLUM:  -- why not try to make a bigger appeal to some of the women voters who had maybe changed their mind or maybe had been turned off by some of the president's actions?
MACCALLUM:  Why not try to drive up the Catholic vote, for example, which the president--
PARSCALE:  I agree.
MACCALLUM:  -- lost some ground on this time around?
PARSCALE:  That 1, 2 percent possibly we lost of suburban families, right, the men and women in the suburbs, Philly suburbs, Atlanta suburbs, I think that goes to one thing.
And I think it was the decision on COVID to go for opening the economy vs. public empathy. And I think a young family with a young child who, one, were scared to take them back to school, wanted to see an empathetic president and an empathetic Republican Party.
And I think that -- and I said this multiple times, and he chose a different path. And I don't think anything is wrong with this. I love him. But, like, we had a difference on this.
I thought we should have public empathy. I think people were scared. I walked around this -- people and walked -- watched people walk around me, not like two years ago, and they just didn't want to walk next to me because I'm Brad Parscale, but walk around me because I got a mask on now, and they just don't want to get COVID.
I can see how waitresses stand a little farther from the table. People were scared. And I think -- I think, if he would have been publicly -- publicly empathetic, he would have won by a landslide there.
I think he could have leaned into it, instead of run away from it.
MACCALLUM:  So, it sounds like you think that was the biggest error, empathy over COVID?
PARSCALE:  Policy error.
There's different kind of errors. There's technical errors. There's policy errors. There's things -- there's also things he did great. It's hard to see that now, when things are so close. But he built one of the greatest economies in history. He wouldn't even have been close if he wouldn't have been that far.
I still think he's going to go down as one of the greatest presidents. I think he got one choice away from being perfect. And that was, do I want to open the country and be the economic -- or do I lean publicly empathetic?
And I think it goes right into thing -- because this is one of the most empathetic men when you're right -- when you're sitting next to him. He cares about you, asks about your family, all that stuff.
All he had to do is get on stage and do that.
MACCALLUM:  When we come back, Brad Parscale will detail the strategy that he thinks the president should take in Georgia, plus, setting the record straight on the viral video of his confrontation with police in Florida, and a stunning admission about his now relationship with the president of the United States.
MACCALLUM:  Have you talked to the president lately?
PARSCALE:  I have not. And it's pretty hurtful. But it's probably just as much my fault as his.
I love that family. And I gave every inch of my life to him, every inch.
MACCALLUM:  Back now with part two of my exclusive interview with former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.
MACCALLUM:  What role do you think the president should play in Georgia? He's going there on Saturday.
PARSCALE:  He's the leader of this party.
And he needs to stand up, in my opinion, to the people of Georgia and say, go vote for these senators and ask them to start immediately investigating what's happening in this country, because, as everyone wants to blame the president, I think it's the opposite.
I think the president is exposing the problem. And that problem is, this is a country that just doesn't play fair rules. And I think he just exposes it everywhere.
And I didn't know how much until I joined this, how much all those things are out. But, like, it's just -- sometimes, it's a dirty world.
MACCALLUM:  Brad, we have known each other quite a while. We have done a lot of interviews together.
PARSCALE:  You're my most interviews.
MACCALLUM:  Thank you.
I just -- I want to give you an opportunity to talk about what happened at your house in Florida back on September 27.
MACCALLUM:  The video became very public. I'm sure it was a very tough time for you.
MACCALLUM:  And I think everybody is sympathetic to that.
Your wife said at one point that you tried to harm her. She later recanted that. She was concerned you were going to harm yourself.
MACCALLUM:  What do you want everybody to know about that?
PARSCALE:  Well, the good thing is, my wife and I are in a much better place now. My family is in a great place.
It's -- we went through a very stressful time for five years. We had lost two children during the election. We buried them. We -- we were completely attacked by the left, the right, the media.
And I got to a bad place. My wife was worried about me. And she helped. And she was there every day by my side. And I love her for it. And we have never been happier. And I'm just glad I have moved on. And I tried my best for the American people.
MACCALLUM:  You feel like you're healthy now, and--
PARSCALE:  I feel like I'm healthy. I'm getting better every day, as the stress -- and this is the last piece of it, to have history remember as it was accurate.
And I appreciate getting to tell the American people that, because I love my wife. She loves me. She was the first one there right afterwards, and she will be the last one I ever see.
MACCALLUM:  Have you talked to the president lately?
PARSCALE:  I have not. And it's pretty hurtful. But it's probably just as much my fault as his. I love that family.
And I gave every inch of my life to him, every inch.
MACCALLUM:  What would you say to him?
PARSCALE:  Keep fighting. Don't give up. Don't give up. The country needs you.
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