The last time most of us saw Brad Parscale was in September when he was being arrested and knocked on his back at his home over a domestic incident. His wife later pulled back those allegations and he claims the two of them “have never been happier.”
Yesterday Parscale gave an interview to Fox News Martha MacCallum in which he talked about his role in the Trump campaign and what he thinks went wrong after he was sidelined several months ago. Parscale walked a fine line in the interview, refusing to criticize Trump or to even say that Trump lost the 2020 election. In fact, he said several times in the interview that he things Trump still has a chance.
But when asked what he thinks went wrong, Parscale argued that he and Jared Kushner had a plan for the campaign but said when he was “removed” over the summer the campaign lost confidence in that plan. Parscale didn’t blame anyone in particular and noted that those who took over for him were his own deputies who he had hired. But he did blame “D-level” sycophants around the president for convincing him not to trust the original plan.
One of most interesting moments of the interview came when MacCallum pressed Parscale on the president’s slide with suburban voters. “I think that goes to one thing,” Parscale replied. He continued, “I think it was the decision, on COVID, to go for opening the economy vs. public empathy. I think a young family with a young child who were scared to take them back to school wanted to see an empathetic president and an empathetic Republican Party.
“I said this multiple times and he chose a different path. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. I love him but we had a difference on this. I thought we should have public empathy. I think people were scared. I watched people walk around me…walk around me because I got a mask on now. They just don’t want to get COVID. I could see how waitresses stand a little farther from the table. People were scared.
“And I think that if he would have been publicly empathetic, he would have won. By a landslide then. I think he could have leaned into it instead of run away from it.”
Parscale went on to add that this was the biggest police mistake the campaign made and was really the one decision that kept the campaign from being “perfect.” “This is one of the most empathetic men when you’re sitting next to him. Cares about you, asks about your family, all that stuff. All he had to do was get on stage and do that,” he said.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Trump camp and Trump himself will respond to this. My guess is they’re not going to be happy that, at least in that one segment of the interview, Parscale implied that a) Trump lost and b) Trump lost because he made a bad call about reopening vs. public empathy.
Is he right? I don’t think there’s any way to say for certain. What I do know for certain is that Democrats were convinced COVID was Trump’s weak point. So much so that they, with the help of some bad polling, convinced themselves a blue wave was coming. That didn’t happen obviously but it does make sense that COVID was the anchor around Trump’s ankle. As Parscale said in this interview, if COVID hadn’t happened, 2020 would have been a GOP blowout. I think that’s true. So there’s no doubt the handling of COVID was an important factor in this election.
Here’s a portion of the MacCallum interview. The part about empathy over COVID comes near the end.