March 29th, 2016

Did Trump mean for his campaign to succeed?

[Hat tip: commenter “liz.”]

Here’s an interesting article alleging that Trump wasn’t originally intending that he actually might be the GOP nominee. It’s from a woman named Stephanie Cegielski, former director of a pro-Trump super-PAC called Make American Great Again.

I have no idea whether what she writes about Trump’s state of mind is true or not, and at this point it’s not all that important, except as a note of alarm by a former Trump supporter. My guess is that while Trump expected to do much better this time than in his previous runs, and had probably done some polling research on that, his success—and the fervor of so many of his supporters—has indeed surprised him.

Cegielski writes:

He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy.

A devastating terrorist attack in Pakistan targeting Christians occurred on Easter Sunday, and Trump’s response was to tweet, “Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead, 400 injured. I alone can solve.”…

This is not how foreign policy works. For anyone. Ever.

Superhero powers where “I alone can solve” problems are not real. They do not exist for Batman, for Superman, for Wrestlemania and definitely not for Donald Trump…

The hard truth is: Trump only cares about Trump.

And if you are one of the disaffected voters — one of the silent majority like me — who wanted a candidate who could be your voice, I want to speak directly to you as one of his biggest advocates and supporters.

He is not that voice. He is not your voice. He is only Trump’s voice…

I, too, think our country has gone off track in its values. I, too, think that we need a dramatic change of course. But I am, in my heart, a policy wonk and a believer in coming to the table with necessary knowledge for leading the free world.

The man does not know policy, nor does he have the humility to admit what he does not know — the most frightening position of all.

The beginning of wisdom is knowing what you do not know.

33 Responses to “Did Trump mean for his campaign to succeed?”

  1. sdferr Says:

    The beginning of wisdom is knowing what you do not know.

    An aphorism with its possible origins in the Attic Greek in Plato to be specific — where, in the Greek there was a deliberate play on the word hoti, which could translate as either “that” (one did not know) or “whatever” (things one did not know). There remained about Socrates though some implication (by Plato) that the “whatever” pointed toward actual substantive knowledge possessed by Socrates of those things about which he was saying he was ignorant.

  2. CV Says:

    It has been my view from the beginning that Trump never really wanted the job of president. Like Obama, he loves the narcissistic thrill of crowd adulation on the campaign trail. In fact, I think I said as much in one of Neo’s comment boxes, probably in reply to PatD or K-E or one of Trump’s other boosters. After Iowa, when he professed a lack of understanding of the term “ground game,” it seemed apparent that he had given little thought to the actual process of campaigning to win and then govern. The author of the linked article says that she joined Trump in part because of the lack of good alternatives. I beg to differ, there were an abundance of good GOP candidates early on and now look where we are. I appreciate the author’s change of heart but it’s akin to throwing herself in front of a speeding train yelling stop. Ain’t gonna happen.

  3. JurassiCon Rex Says:

    Kathy Shaidle was spot on when she wrote of Trump and the brouhaha – hahah, surrounding Trump:
    “Hitler? Be more worried that Trump will turn out to be like that other Austrian…”

    (you know the one – Mr. Beefcake…the ghuvahnor of Kaleefornya… the Terminator.

  4. Oldflyer Says:

    I wonder where she was a few months ago? Is it really possible that she only now had an epiphany?

  5. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I suppose you could take “I alone….” to mean, “among those other clowns running who, even if they knew, wouldn’t.” Might even approach the truth.
    I have no idea, but it’s possible that Trump is close enough to this planet to actually mean the second.

  6. blert Says:

    The ‘mission creep’ of the Trump campaign has been obvious for months — and noted here.

    Of course the gal is correct.

  7. Eric Says:

    Activism works.

    As Neo has noted, Obama wasn’t actually a mastermind, either. Look at the movement, not just the man. Indeed, consider the movement ahead of the man.

    The Trump campaign strategic advantage is it allied with Left-mimicking “jayvee” alt-Right activists. It’s made a difference because the Right and GOP suffer from a self-induced deficiency of activism that renders them critically vulnerable to activism, as has been long demonstrated by their apparent impotence versus the Left-activist Gramscian march. The chronic activist deficiency on the Right created a market inefficiency exploited by the activist-driven Trump phenomenon.

  8. parker Says:

    “Trump only cares for Trump”

    What took you so long Stephanie?

  9. KLSmith Says:

    There is also Ann Coulter, who is a big fan, calling him “mental” and another fan, Newt Gingrich saying Trump is doing stupid stuff. See Allahpundit’s article at

  10. Artfldgr Says:

    by the way, you do know that Cegielski is pissed at trump for dropping her and not wanting the trump pac? ie. he doesnt want any pac and that kind of ruined Cegielski big paycheck… so she got spiteful…

    “Cegielski was Donald Trump’s communications manager and top strategist.” – is false… Stephanie Cegielski was a strategist for the Make America Great Again super PAC.

    which trump didnt want…

    Complicating things, the headline appeared to contradict the body of the article. xoJane identified Cegielski as Trump’s “top strategist” in their title, but Cegielski identified herself as the “Communications Director of the ‘Make America Great Again’ Super PAC” in her open letter to Trump supporters:

    Cegielski was identified as a “spokeswoman” for the super PAC in an August 2015 article published in Politico, and Cegielski called herself a “consultant” on her LinkedIn profile

    Hope Hicks, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, told Yahoo News that Cegielski was never employed by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign


    The “Make America Great Again” super PAC went dark as of October 2015 amid ongoing scrutiny of where the money was coming from and going to, and whether the committee had direct ties to the Trump campaign.

    she was out of a job and trump wanted nothing to do with her, and so, she used the platform to smear him…

    sorry, but its not (again) what it appears to be – and it was the liberal press that fessed this one up. but dotn worry, like a lawyer that says something that has to be removed from objection, they know no one can really erase their brains, and thats if they hear the bs

    women never lie, and they are never spiteful

    oh… and on another note…
    Megyn is going to lose her lawsuit
    cause she cant identify who attacked her

    “Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken,” she wrote.

    “The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground. I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this.”

    so her whole case relies on the hearsay of someone who told her who grabbed her, and she does not know hrself who did… if she said in the police report she knew, then this will mean she is caught in a lie.

    the case is a dead end.

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Cegielski takes issue with “I alone can solve.” Which is hardly a controversial assertion for a political candidate to make while engaged in a heated campaign.

    Certainly Reagan, equally ‘unwonkish’ proved that out of the then candidates, he was the only one who could solve the problem of the Soviet Union. So sometimes that is exactly how foreign policy works. “We win, they lose” was Reagan’s stated foreign policy in regard to the Soviets.

    Trump’s prescriptions are equally ‘unwonkish’; ban Muslim migration (for as long as it takes). Build a wall, end illegal immigration, reform legal immigration. Put the American worker first. Any policy that hasn’t those as its first premise and bottom line will fail to make headway on these problems.

    Cegielski asserts, “The hard truth is: Trump only cares about Trump.”

    Funny, I have the definite impression that Trump’s children would disagree. Trump is certainly a narcissist and self-involved but since when is that proof of not caring for anyone but himself?

    Finally she says, “I am, in my heart, a policy wonk and a believer in coming to the table with necessary knowledge for leading the free world.”

    Given the state of the world, it is incredibly naive to think that ‘coming to the table with the necessary knowledge for leading the free world’ has any chance of persuading the UN to abandon its cesspit of machinations.

    Of persuading Merkel and the EU to abandon its campaign of forced societal change in order to finally destroy all vestiges of national homogeneity.

    Of persuading the left to place America’s survival ahead of their ideological goals. Especially as America’s destruction is their primary goal.

    Of persuading the GOPe to place the American people before its determination to maintain its oligarchical ambitions.

    These are the primary forces that are and will be aligned against either a Pres. Trump or Cruz and, they are NOT open to persuasion. Not even by someone who comes “to the table with [the] necessary knowledge for leading the free world.”

    This woman has much to learn about the beginning of wisdom. Which starts with facing the whole truth, not just that Trump is often an asshole.

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    “Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken,” she wrote.

    “The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground.”
    a direct quote by Fields?

  13. KLSmith Says:

    I read Stephanie’s article yesterday. For such a long article, I thought she was very short on specifics regarding her change of heart. Something vague about when she started to listen to him from a more detached point of view and the ” I alone ” statement which had just happened. Although I suppose it very well could have been a vague sensation and then realization that he was always repeating the same couple of lines and never said anything of real substance. That he wasn’t serious and was just winging it. I’ve been shocked by how this isn’t obvious to those that support him.

  14. Kyndyll G Says:

    Is Trump more surprised than anyone at how successful this campaign has been? Or is he so egotistical that he assumed success without the sort of knowledge or planning that normal people would put in to small endeavors, like running for President?

  15. geokstr Says:


    If it’s true that Trump really wasn’t serious in the beginning, then it’s not about Trump “allying” with the alt-right, it’s more like they’ve picked him as the likely vessel to ride to whatever goals they’ve had in mind all along.

    Many here have speculated the destruction of the Republican party is what they really want. From the beginning this whole “movement” has seemed far too sophisticated and organized than it should have been if it was the Trump’s campaign’s brainchild or it was just a confluence of current events that brought together all these activists. Some of the prominent online agitators have obviously been at this for years, many full-time, and they’re all hiding their prior activity.

    So who would benefit the most if the Republican Party was destroyed? These activists? The Tea Parties? Conservatives? White unemployed males? Disaffected Democrats?

    How about the Marxists?

    You’ve called their activists the “varsity”. The left has been marrying technology and social media to Alinsky for decades. What if they’re the real brains behind this “alt-right” activism?

    At first it might have been just to disrupt the Republicans, but it’s succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. Now they have the prospect of a deeply flawed opponent to Hillary, a veritable immobile heavy bag for the media assault to punch away at mercilessly.

    And if the unthinkable happens and Trump becomes POTUS, the Marxists in Congress, the institutions, the media and in the streets are perfectly positioned to cause unrest, violence and crises they will never let go to waste.

  16. parker Says:

    Trump began with no ground game, and still relies on large rallies that ignore the need to visit dozens of locations in a given state. To his credit, he has the msm providing plenty of publicity; but that will turn completely negative in the general except for his cheerleaders at FOX. And, he has revealed a dismal knowledge of how delegates are awarded, and that the procedure differs from state to state. His decision to run as a bombastic celebrity has worked so far, but unless he arrives at the convention with 1237, he will find a much different ball game than the one he has been playing.

  17. blert Says:


    It’s really looking like he’s peaked — momentum wise.

    As it is looking quite unlikely that he’ll attain the nomination by the second ballot.

    A LOT of ‘his’ delegates are alienated from his policies.

    EG South Carolina’s delegates can only come from a pool of long time GOP activists// loyalists… not Trumpbots.

  18. Matt_SE Says:

    Artfldgr Says:

    by the way, you do know that Cegielski is pissed at trump for dropping her and not wanting the trump pac? ie. he doesnt want any pac and that kind of ruined Cegielski big paycheck… so she got spiteful…

    I can’t believe it, but I actually agree with Artfldgr on this. Nobody with common sense who didn’t *want* to believe Trump got snookered. It’s telling that this is the one and only change story of this emphasis that I’ve heard.

    I think this lady had ulterior motives, and was bitter that things with the Trump camp didn’t work out that way.

    Otherwise, you would have to believe in the sincerity of an almost 100% conversion in less than 6 months from an ideology/movement that has been described as “cult-like.”

    I find that unlikely.

  19. Yankee Says:

    Still, we have the example of 1992, where Ross Perot actually dropped out of the race in the summer, only to re-enter it several weeks later. And even after that, and with all his other problems, Perot went on to get 19.7 million votes, or about 18.9%. (Perot later got 8.4% of the vote in 1996). Compare this to the 1912 election, with Theodore Roosevelt getting 27% (as opposed to Taft’s 23%), and socialist Eugene Debs getting 6%.

    There were other third party candidates who had significant support in various Presidential elections, but Perot is the only one I can think of who dropped out before the race, which tends to indicate lack of seriousness on his part.

  20. OldTexan Says:

    I wonder if Trump’s ‘make it up as you go along’ game is about to play out. I have been amazed and at time impressed with the zany crap he has pulled that instead of causing an implosion pushes him on to the next level. At times it appeared to me that Trump was outfoxing his opponents by tuning into the frustration of average voters with a touch of genius.

    Now I have to agree with most of the critics that he is just mushing along in the muck and about to hit high center. There are references in the Bible about a time to speak and a time for silence that all of us should heed, especially a politician yet the words keep coming out of his mouth.

    This latest battle with Cruz bringing wives and friends into the conversation has destroyed the last bits of credulity most of us might have had about Trump. My last shred of amused respect has been blown away and reading Stephanie Cegielski’s piece wrapped it all up for me.

    The last thing our troubled nation needs now is a leader with narcissistic behavior and the self righteous mind set that he, by verbal decree, can fix everything. It appears to me that a goober with time on his hands decided to make a splash and get some attention by jumping in for a bit and now he is in an unexpected strong position in the race with no idea what to do if he wins.

    If it were not so real life serious this would make one hell of a funny movie.

  21. Oldflyer Says:

    A little disagreement in our house about whether the media is shilling for Trump. I maintain that by giving him copious air time they are aiding him. Wife says, “they ask him tough questions”. Yep. And give him more than enough time to bloviate in response. Meanwhile, where are the competitors?

    Bret Baier on the FNC Trump channel had a long piece with Trump filmed on his wonderful airplane, the best, delivering a soliloquy about his campaign manager’s problem, and how he might sue, etc.. I guess that is his answer to every problem. Then, on came Greta who opened with–one guess should do it.

  22. blert Says:

    From Dilbert:

    My best tweet of the year was this one:

    Pundits say Trump has destroyed the Republican party. I say that’s one party down, one to go. The job is only half done. #trump


    Which goes a long way towards explaining Scott Adam’s embrace of Trump — which is now, not an embrace.

    His pulling back coincides with peak Trump mania.

    The wives skirmish was a petard.

  23. blert Says:

    Why the corporate media titans have mixed views on Trump — viewed from their pocket books.

  24. Frog Says:

    Funny, I’ve always thought it was Barack Hussein who never really expected to win, that he campaigned purely for material reasons and then LO! found he’d hit the jackpot, caught the brass ring.

  25. parker Says:


    The msm is not shilling… its a matter of enough rope. The donald thinks he is leading the msm by the nose. It ain’t so. He is the one with ring in the nose. If he reaches the general the msm will hank on the rope attached to the ring. Trust me as an old farm boy, this is how you lead an old bull to the slaughterhouse.

  26. parker Says:


    In Trump’s case it is not a brass ring. It is steel with a bit of rope attached. All that matters is who holds the rope. For bho the rope was slack, the first ‘black’ president was the holy grail.. In the 2016 general, should the donald win the nomination, the msm and dnc will pull with all their might on the rope.

    Trump as the nominee equals 100 or so votes in the Electoral College. Its called a landslide.

  27. blert Says:

    Frog Says:
    March 29th, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Funny, I’ve always thought it was Barack Hussein who never really expected to win, that he campaigned purely for material reasons and then LO! found he’d hit the jackpot, caught the brass ring.


    Famously gay David Geffen hypercharged Barry’s campaign — as did Oprah Winfrey.

    Hence we have the first mulatto, gay president.


    Barry has been outed by many gays — the ultimate ‘tell’ being how many flamingly gay ‘pals’ that Barry is ALWAYS hanging out with — as in transporting around the globe on Air Force One.

    In keeping with the gay lifestyle, there have been many.

  28. KLSmith Says:

    Just got through watching the CNN town hall with the 3 candidates. Trump is a clown, Ronald McDonald Trump. Actually most clowns are probably more coherent, less petty, and can answer a serious question without insulting other people. This would actually be entertaining if he was in Kasich’s place. It is just sad for the country that he is in first place on the Republican side.

  29. Beverly Says:


    THIS IS A FRAUD, people.

    This woman claimed she worked for Trump: Never did work for him. Never on his staff. She also lied about being a top strategist for him. No, she wasn’t ANY kind of strategist.

    The PAC she worked for closed down, and Trump had nothing to do with it.

    “The woman that wrote the Trump story. What is her name? Stephanie Cegielski, a little research. She never worked for the Trump campaign. She worked for a distant PAC. She portrayed herself as… Well, it’s titled, “Open Letter to Trump Voters From His Top Strategist Turned Defector.”

    She never was his top strategist. She was never close to the campaign. She was never part of it — and even the leftist fact-checked it and came to that conclusion.”

    [Limbaugh, with pertinent links at his site:

    And CNN is axe-grindingly partisan for their own reasons.

    Wow. I never thought I’d see you jump on something like this without fact-checking it, Neo. That’s unworthy of you.

  30. The Other Chuck Says:

    blert, all the rumors about Obama being gay could have some truth to them. It’s possible. However, as a keen observer of body language I think Obama shows the exact opposite tendencies. Do you remember when he attended Nelson Mandela’s funeral and had a little encounter with the Danish Prime Minister? And do remember Michelle’s dagger eyes looking at them? I seriously doubt that was faked. Nor was the kiss Barry gave the Danish blond.

  31. neo-neocon Says:


    I doubt very much that Cegielski herself wrote that headline, which is erroneous and does not match the way she describes herself in the article. Headlines for articles, by the way, are usually not written by the author of the article, so I doubt she wrote the headline.

    With that out of the way, these are the claims she makes about her relation to the Trump campaign:

    (1) She says that a year ago—which would make it around March, 2015—she sat in Trump Tower, having been “recruited” in some unspecified capacity for her PR and public policy expertise, “being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count.” So she alleges she was recruited as a PR advisor or consultant or potential advisor or consultant of some sort early on (before Trump declared his candidacy), perhaps only as passive listener, perhaps for only that one session, perhaps even unpaid. That’s all she says about that.

    (2) She says that last summer (2015) she became the “Communications Director of the Make America Great Again Super PAC.” PACs are not directly under the aegis of the candidates and are in fact by law not allowed to be in communication with them. She does not allege that at that point she was in any communication anymore with Trump or with his people. That had happened earlier.

    (3) She writes that in October she agreed with others in the PAC to close it in order to underline Trump’s message that he was free of PACs and being beholden to moneyed supporters. So the PAC only operated for a couple of months.

    At no point does she say that while she was in the PAC she had any communications with or was employed by the Trump camp. The communications from the Trump camp on which she bases her statements about Trump’s original intent occurred before that, about a year ago, at some sort of meeting she seems to have attended and for which she says she was “recruited.”

    She therefore is speaking of two positions. The first was as some sort of PR person not even necessarily working for Trump, but being privy to some meeting and consultation with the Trump people. The second was her later involvement with the PAC. In the first capacity she was somewhat privy to the Trump camp’s statements about what he was thinking. In her second capacity she was not privy to anything they were saying or thinking except their public statements, but she was still watching him, evaluating him, reacting to him, and trying to promote him.

    She never says she was his top strategist, or any sort of strategist except in her capacity as a PAC employee, which was not directly under his campaign but “supporting” it. That certainly is true. She does not say she was his “communications manager.” She does not say she worked for him at all, except to “support” him in her work for the PAC as communications director of that.

    You need to do your own fact-checking, because she never said she worked for him, never said she was his top strategist or anything of the sort (that’s the headline, and as a writer, I must say that I personally have been harmed by headlines editors have written that imply things I never said in my article). What does SHE actually say? Here are some quotes:

    (a) she said that a year ago she was “recruited” as PR expert to sit “in Trump Tower being told” the goals of the Trump campaign at that time. She never alleges she was hired by him.

    (b) she says that “Last summer, I signed on as the Communications Director of the Make America Great Again Super PAC.” No one is disputing that she held that position.

    (c) she later says that she “was recruited to help the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.” (no doubt true of her position at the PAC)

    (d) she says she was “one of his biggest advocates and supporters” (nothing contradicts that assertion, either)

    (e) she mentions that the Trump campaign’s “internal slogan” was “Let Trump be Trump.” She does not say how she learned that, but from the rest of the article it seems pretty clear that she either heard it from someone second-hand while she worked for the PAC, or she heard it at that initial meeting in Trump Tower a year ago. I repeat that she never alleges she was employed by Trump or had any other dealings with his people other than her attendance at that initial Trump Tower meeting a year ago. It’s the headline that implies that, and it is very very likely that headline was not written by her and did not have her approval. If my own experience is any indication, she most likely was not even informed of it until she saw it published (as I said, I have had that happen to me).

    (f) she writes about Trump that she “helped prop him up.” That was certainly true when she worked for the pro-Trump PAC.

    The Trump campaign has said she never worked for them. But Cegielski never said she did.

    Your gratuitous remarks:

    I never thought I’d see you jump on something like this without fact-checking it, Neo. That’s unworthy of you.

    …are actually unworthy of YOU.

    Now, it’s certainly possible that Cegielski was never in attendance at any Trump Tower meeting a year ago, and that she’s lying about that. But even the Trump people have never said she was not at such a meeting. Nothing in her article (except the headline, which I’ve already explained I don’t take as something she herself wrote) is contradicted by anything the Trump people have said, nor is it contradicted by anything in her resume.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    The closest modern day trans interpretation to the Socratic line written by Plato and others would be,

    “The more things I know, the more I know that I am ignorant of” vs the regular translation which is “what I know is that I know nothing”.

    The Socratic method and dialogue were designed to test and question Authority. Thus Socrates motivated his students, like Plato, and others to question all kinds of Authority on what wisdom and knowledge is, not merely swallow what you are told. Which, of course, also included questioning Socrates.

  33. Big Maq Says:

    @blert – re:Dilbert – Scott Adams

    He used to have interesting points to make – a long, long time ago.

    He’s been pushing this “Master Persuader” notion about Trump which doesn’t even hold water. Also note, he thinks people are “meat puppets”, so they can be led to anything by a persuasive person (i.e. think of a pied piper using words where people can only helplessly have a Pavlovian response).

    Bottom Line: Adams has been a major Trump apologist / admirer even though he “disavows” Trump for being too “scary”. Adams says he doesn’t vote, nor align himself with any political party because doing so “would make me bias and less credible”, but is “purely interested” in Trump’s “persuasion skills”.

    BUT, scanning his blog posts, it is clear he very much likes Trump.

    That “one party down, one to go” is well aligned with the Trumpsters’ idea of what it is all about to them.

    That Adams says so, says much about him that he won’t even admit to himself it seems.

    He is one of a number of bloggers and others in conservative media I’ve come across that are VERY defensive for Trump, but deny they outright are supporting him.

    It is time for them to get off the pot and give up their BS “observer” status. (looking at you Limbaugh)

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