A longtime Republican political consultant and author of several books about Ronald Reagan’s presidency has laid out what he billed as a winning strategy for former President Donald Trump should he decide to run again in 2024, as many expect he will.
In a column posted at Townhall.com, consultant Craig Shirley noted that Reagan “cleaned house” of political advisers between his 1976 GOP primary loss to incumbent President Gerald Ford and his comeback win in 1980 against then-President Jimmy Carter, decisions that were necessary for him to be victorious.
“At a critical point in the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan had enough and cleaned house of his senior political advisors including campaign manager John Sears. One staffer would later recall, ‘Ronald Reagan would not have come so close in 1976 had he not hired John Sears; and Ronald Reagan would not have won the GOP nomination had he not fired John Sears in 1980,’” Shirley wrote.
“As it does on so many occasions, history repeats itself. Like Reagan before him, Donald Trump now must clean house if he hopes to make a serious political comeback,” he continued.
While Trump enjoyed a lot of free press because most media outlets considered his outsider candidacy a “novelty,” Trump won primarily on the strength of his personality and the fact that he successfully followed a strategy of targeting key states that his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, took for granted.
But next time around, Shirley suggested that Trump is a known quantity and will thus have to be far more selective in who he brings aboard his team:
As we approach 2024, all the right conditions are there for Trump to win again should he decide to run. Joe Biden has proven to be an unmitigated disaster in every aspect of his presidency. Crime is rampant, inflation has skyrocketed, shelves are empty, and the southern border between America and Mexico is practically nonexistent.
In the realm of foreign affairs, Biden shamed the country when he disgracefully allowed the Taliban to take back control of Afghanistan and abandoned hundreds of Americans still stranded in that godforsaken country, while simultaneously allowing our adversaries to run circles around us. Don’t get me started on the stupidity of Ukraine.
In short, Trump has the perfect recipe to win again, but all that means nothing if he doesn’t get his own house in order first.
Shirley then recalled how, many years ago, he worked for the New York Racing Association, revealing a saying he used to hear a great deal at the track: “A good jockey cannot make a bad horse win, but a bad jockey can make a good horse lose.”
“Campaigns are fresh and campaigns are stale. Campaigns need new personnel, new ideas and new initiatives. And Trump’s is no exception,” wrote Shirley.
As for who Trump should embrace, Shirley cited former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whom he described as a “good friend” but also someone who “is perhaps the smartest person in American politics today.”
Gingrich is someone who is “polished, articulate, knowledgeable of laws and regulation,” and able to provide the former president “and by extension the entire GOP with the ideas they’ll need to gain control of Washington if they win the House, Senate, and White House back in the coming years.”
Citing “the Rudy Gulianis and Sydney Powells of the world,” Shirley recommended that Trump keeps at arm’s length “those who bring needless controversy and buffoonery to his brand within his circle.
“He dosen’t need an endless menagerie of political consultants who only know how to lose elections,” he noted further, adding that Trump should avoid bringing in “anyone else who thinks it will benefit Trump to relitigate the 2020 election.”
“Joe Biden is the worst president on the books since Jimmy Carter. He goes into a town and bridges collapse. Regardless of who ends up being the Republican standard bearer, that person will need competent advisors for their campaign. At the end of the day Americans want competency, and surrounding himself with competent people will go a long way for Trump when it comes time for Americans to cast their vote in the next presidential election,” Shirley wrote.
He concludes: “Biden has given Trump a target-rich environment and he does not need to be distracted by bad pollsters and bad consultants.”