Advisor urged Trump: Focus on how the system is rigged against citizens, not on personal attacks

Don’t get dragged down by petty attacks, Stone counseled Trump, but begin offering an agenda focused on the economy and hammer home what makes you a singular candidate. In a 13-page memo to Trump, Stone urged him to state that “the system is rigged against the citizens” and that he is the lone candidate “who cannot be bought.”

“A builder, an entrepreneur and a capitalist versus a bunch of politicians who are clearly part of the problem” is how Stone framed the contest in the document, obtained by The Washington Post from a Republican working with the campaign. The memo suggested a sound bite: “I’m running because when I look at this field — all perfectly nice people — I know that none of them could ever run one of my companies. They are not entrepreneurs.”

But Trump did not heed the advice. Instead, after briefly flipping through the papers, he decided to wing it — just as he had vowed to do. In a debate watched by a cable-news-record 24 million Americans, Trump followed his gut, and the theater that followed was defined more by outbursts than by substance — most memorably when he sparred with moderator Megyn Kelly over his past incendiary comments about wom­en.

“I don’t follow any memo, actually, because no memo can prepare you for what goes on in these campaigns or at these debates,” Trump said Sunday in an interview with The Post. “I’ve got to be me. That’s why I am where I am, leading the polls. It’s not because of memos. The whole thing — the debate, asking me to raise my hand about running as an independent, everything — it was wild.”