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“Donald Trump’s big acceptance speech Thursday,” according to reports appearing in a number of places—here I’m quoting Politico—“will be written in part by…Peter M. Robinson.”
No it won’t.
A word of explanation:
Not quite two weeks ago, my old friend Larry Kudlow called, asking if I’d advise the Trump campaign on speechwriting. I told Larry just what I’ve said here on Ricochet: Despite Donald Trump’s shortcomings—and he was hardly my first choice for the Republican nomination—I believe a Trump administration would be a lot better than a Clinton administration. (I know many of my fellow conservatives disagree, but all I myself had to do to decide the matter was imagine Clinton’s appointments to the Supreme Court.) That being so, I said, I would see helping the Trump campaign as something of a patriotic duty.
Over the next several days I telephoned and emailed Larry several times. I offered my thoughts on the best ways of setting up a speechwriting shop and suggested several writers who would be willing to help. Then on Saturday, July 9, I participated in a conference call with Larry, Stephen Miller of the Trump campaign, and Ben Elliot, another old friend of mine who, like me, had served as a speechwriter for President Reagan. The four of us discussed themes the candidate might use in his acceptance speech, in the major address on economics that would follow the convention, and in the series of addresses in which Trump plans to lay out his policy positions in detail.
A couple of days later, the campaign asked me to sign a non-disclosure agreement. After having a lawyer advise me—note, by the way, that the lawyer is a Trump supporter, one of the few I know here in Northern California—I declined to do so. To speak to the media, to name one provision, the NDA would have required me to seek approval from Trump’s representatives—in perpetuity. Half my friends are in the media. I might as well have sawn off an arm.
Yesterday I typed up a few final notes—they came to just three pages—and sent them to Larry.
That ended my involvement.
Since I’ll be unable to reply to the emails from reporters that have been piling up in my inbox—I’ve got to get back to work—let me answer a couple of questions right here.
Q: Do you have any idea how all this made its way into the press?
A: None. I only learned that it had become a story when I got a call yesterday afternoon from Bob Costa of the Washington Post. (Bob’s an old friend. Case in point.) An honest man, by the way, Bob reported only that the Trump campaign “has consulted with two former Reagan speechwriters…but that pair is not formally part of the campaign.” That much is true.
Q: Should the Trump campaign reconsider NDAs?
A: Not necessarily. Since leaks pose a problem in every campaign, the argument for NDAs makes sense. All I’m saying is that I couldn’t sign the NDA myself.
Q: Do you still wish the Trump campaign well?
A: I certainly do. As briefly as I was involved, I learned that very good people are working very hard to draft addresses that will enable the candidate to argue his case, explaining his principles and setting out his policies. Donald Trump can inspire the nation yet.
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