Manhasset resident and 11-day White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci said it is President Donald Trump’s communication style that has brought down his approval ratings.
But Trump likes winning, so if gaining a second term means leveling out his tone, maybe he will, Scaramucci said at a Manhasset Chamber of Commerce networking event last Wednesday night at North Hills Country Club.
“I don’t know if he can change, but I know he likes to win,” Scaramucci said.
The author and member of Trump’s 2016 campaign spoke about topics ranging from trade with China to the American wealth gap in front of an audience that included his former Paul D. Schreiber High School social studies teacher.
He also spoke about the logic behind his 2018 book “Trump: The Blue Collar President,” and what he learned from the experience of being fired from his executive branch position.
He offered three pieces of advice based on his firing – take accountability for errors, forgive yourself and don’t keep grudges – broader ways of dealing with an issue he described as a simple mistake: assuming something was off the record.
The conversation he spoke of was a phone call he had with reporter Ryan Lizza in which he disparaged former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and said he wanted to “kill all the leakers and I want to get the President’s agenda on track.”
The New Yorker published a story based on the call.
Lizza’s family had a relationship with his own, and he had assumed it was just a one-on-one conversation, Scaramucci said.
“I trusted somebody that I should not have trusted,” he said.
Scaramucci remains affiliated with Trump’s circle; last week he was at an economic conference in Bahrain where the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner presented a plan for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Scaramucci made 26 campaign stops with Trump before the election and said he found that the people they encountered felt abandoned by politicians.
“These were people that were just looking for hope,” Scaramucci said. “They were not white nationalists, they were not deplorable people, they were not ethnocentrist or anything like that. What they were were people that wanted hope. They wanted an opportunity.”
That’s the basis for a book that calls Trump a blue-collar president despite his identity as one of the richest people in the world, he said. He wanted a controversial title. Something to upset liberals, he said.
Scaramucci devoted about half of his speaking time to audience questions, one of which was from his high school teacher, who asked whether he believes in climate change.
He does, but does not know how it can be tackled at the federal level, Scaramucci responded.
“To get a holistic climate deal done, Mr. Anderson, I have no idea how we can do that, but I do know that we have a problem and we have to solve the problem,” he said.
When it comes to the wealth gap, socialism isn’t the answer, he said, but equalizing access to quality education and health care will help solve it.
A market that allows people like Jeff Bezos to create “an enormous amount of value” is healthy, he suggested.
“If you get a great education here at the Schreiber High School but a terrible one at an inner city Detroit High School it’s very unfair,” Scaramucci said. “Those people did not pick the areas of their birth or their families and the government we are a smart enough group of people and this is a very rich nation. We can figure out a way to systemize that.”
The state of international trade is the result of a system positioned against the U.S. dating back to the post-World War II Marshall Plan, he said.
China needs a trade deal with the U.S. more than the U.S. needs one with China, he said.
“The Chinese have a hollower weaker story than you would actually believe from reading the press, so they need the deal,” he said. “Their … economy’s been hobbled, currency’s been hobbled.”
Scaramucci has published four books. He started his career in the banking industry and later created the financial services company Oscar Capital Management and the investment firm SkyBridge Capital.
“He is the epitome of what an entrepreneurial spirit is,” said Manhasset Chamber of Commerce co-President Elizabeth Johnson.
If he had to offer Trump one piece of advice, it would be to speak more like he did during his State of the Union address, which Scaramucci described as engaging and inclusive.
“He’s creating too much coarseness from the top, from the bully pulpit of the presidency, and it’s turning off a lot of people,” he said. “It’s the nastiness and it’s the style that’s holding him back.”