Former deputy chief of staff to Trump says “there’s a very big chance” he will be re-elected
The Australian Financial Review | August 3, 2023
By Patrick Durkin
The former deputy chief of staff to Donald Trump says “there’s a very big chance” he will be re-elected US president next year, but that Australia and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese have nothing to fear.
Emma Doyle, who worked for Mr Trump between 2018 and 2020, now works for Australia’s former ambassador to the US Joe Hockey and his advisory Bondi Partners, where she is privately dubbed “the Trump whisperer”.
Ms Doyle said the key to surviving under the former president was “not going to work every day afraid of being fired. If you get fired, you get fired.”
“I was always very direct, never threw people under the bus and would say: ‘we’ve looked at this six different ways and here are two options’.”
Ms Doyle was in Melbourne with Mr Hockey for a private dinner with clients on Thursday night to discuss opportunities for Australian energy companies through the Inflation Reduction Act.
She told The Australian Financial Review that while Mr Trump’s indictment would be a factor in the polls, US President Joe Biden’s health and the economy would also be key.
“If the primary were tomorrow [Mr Trump] would win,” she said. “The polling shows he’s dominating the Republican primary, he’s neck and neck with Biden, but a big part of our election is always turnout.”
Ms Doyle agreed with others that while mounting criminal proceedings could consume Mr Trump’s campaign funds, the former president could also leverage them for political benefit.
“He said in 2016 that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters, they are that loyal,” she said. But she conceded the timing of any proceedings in the lead-up to Super Tuesday on March 5 next year was also important.
The 80-year-old President Biden has announced he will run again in 2024 but “people are concerned about Biden’s age, and his age is becoming visible in increasing ways”, Ms Doyle said.
She said if Mr Biden did have to step aside, Vice President Kamala Harris would “probably not” secure the nomination and “the Democrats would have to scramble and then it’s anyone’s game”.
But the 35-year-old Washington insider predicted the US economy would be among the biggest factors for voters. US markets fell this week after ratings agency Fitch downgraded US debt from a AAA rating to AA+.
“A lot turns on the economy,” she said. “The economy feels somewhat better but crime feels worse. There’s a sense things are getting back to normal but they still don’t feel good.
“Our elections tend to be very emotionally driven. How do you feel? Do you feel like you’re better off than you were four years ago?”
Ms Doyle, who has also lobbied for Ford Motor Company and worked for Republican Members of Congress in the House and Senate, dismissed as a “bad take” the concerns expressed in Bruce Wolpe’s new book Trump’s Australia, over the implications of Mr Trump’s return for Australia.
“If he’s president again, he is going to deal professionally with whoever the prime minister of Australia is. I sincerely believe that,” she said.
“The two countries have been side by side in every war since World War I, and we’ve had leaders that in both countries feel strongly about that, and the alliance has survived and is closer than ever.”
She dismissed suggestions a re-elected Mr Trump could tear up AUKUS or insist Virginia-class submarines be made in the US.
“This is where people think because they see Trump doing things out of the norm he’s entirely irrational, and he’s not,” she said.
“I could just as easily see him saying, ‘of course they want our submarines, they’re the best in the world, we make the very best’,” she said, employing a well-known Trump impression.
She said Bondi Partners were discussing the enormous opportunities for Australian companies in the US, especially across the energy sector.
“There’s a really bipartisan movement in the US to shore up our supply chain and start to strip China out of it,” she said. “We are taking a much more expansive view of national security and including energy and supply chain security.”
“There’s legislation pending in the Senate right now that would enable Australian companies to have access to money under the Defense Protection Act for operations in Australia, which would be completely new.
“There aren’t very many countries we would consider doing that for.”
Ms Doyle also said there were a lot of “inaccurate takes” about Mr Trump.
“I don’t think Trump hates unions,” she said. “He was a lifelong Democrat from New York who was in construction, and you can’t build anything in New York without using union labour.
“People seem to either think he’s incredibly strategic and there’s always a plan or that there’s absolutely no plan and he can do anything and it’s total chaos.
“He has excellent political instincts,” she said. “He’s at his best at a rally speech, reading the room and going off the cuff.”
“He doesn’t like being disliked, he wants to be liked,” she said.
“He likes to be personally in the room. He wanted to meet with Kim Jong-un because he thought, ‘if I can get in the room, if anyone has got a shot, I do’.”
Published by the Australian Financial Review.
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