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Former Rival Contemplates Trump's Recipe For Success


We also have this question, of course, of who will be the next president. And the Republican speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said in a recent Politico interview that a unified Republican Party, quote, "can win the White House." But he added that he's not necessarily betting on it. More and more Republicans in Washington are betting on it.

And if there's one person who has spent a lot of time thinking about Donald Trump's secret recipe for success, it is Rick Tyler. He's the former communications director for Ted Cruz. And we asked him to come by our studios. Rick Tyler, thanks you for coming in and chatting. We appreciate it.

RICK TYLER: It's great to be here.

GREENE: Well, we're here to talk about Donald Trump...

TYLER: Yeah.

TYLER: ...Who appears to be the Republican nominee. And I guess, you know, you had a certain vantage point going against him in so many states. What do you see is making him so successful as a candidate so far?

TYLER: Well, there's several things. One is - he has captured, really, the working white voter's imagination. I remember with Ted Cruz, we took a bus tour all through the South - what they call the SEC primary - and we saw these same voters come out. They came out in hundreds and sometimes thousands of people.

And we got really excited because this is a group of people we wanted to get. And this group of people is a group of people who feels like they haven't been able to get ahead in the economy, probably in the last eight or 10 years. But Donald Trump captured them.

GREENE: Well - so what was the key to Trump being able to do that and his opponents not winning over these voters?

TYLER: He vanquished 14 politicians and two non-politicians. And the reason he did it is because Donald Trump is simply living out his brand. He's just being who he is. We expect him to be who he is. And so when he says things that are rather shocking, they don't seem very shocking because Donald Trump said them. And we're used to him saying them.

GREENE: But let's pick this apart a little bit.

TYLER: Yeah.

GREENE: I mean, if one thing Donald Trump has done is seem authentic - like, seem like he's just talking as if he's Donald Trump - is there a lesson for people in politics about - that's what voters want? Is it a lesson that - maybe you could have advised Ted Cruz to sort of just be more himself? Is that something Hillary Clinton might learn from and try to be more herself if that's what voters want?

TYLER: If she remembers who herself is, maybe. There's a moment in the campaign that I think is very emblematic. And it's when Ted Cruz crosses the street and approaches a Donald Trump voter. And what was really interesting about that is - Ted Cruz is a trained prosecutor. He knows how to present the facts and the evidence.

And if you are rational and listen to Ted Cruz, you could very well be persuaded 'cause he is very convincing. The Trump supporter did not listen to Ted Cruz. And I'm not going to engage with you on that because I'm not - I will lose a debate with Ted Cruz.

So I'll just chant Trump. And he did that. And that is the only debate that Ted Cruz lost in this election cycle.

GREENE: But isn't - I mean, if this is a voter who might have just wanted to not be talking to a prosecutor, is there some lesson there for people who have been in politics for a long time - about something they might do?

TYLER: Absolutely. I think you have to come across as authentic and real. And a lot of politicians have trouble doing that because it's just not been the conventional way that you would run for office.

GREENE: So Donald Trump could win this election with largely just huge numbers among working-class, white male voters. Is that what you're saying?

TYLER: Yeah. It's ironic because if you think about the report that the RNC issued called the autopsy, oddly enough, it talked about reaching out to Hispanics and African-Americans. In fact, Trump is really not underperforming them compared to the dismal numbers that Republicans typically get in those groups. He's holding his own.

But if Mitt Romney had gotten three more percent of the white vote, he would have won. And this is - there's two candidates now that have the working white voter. One is Donald Trump. And the other is Bernie Sanders. And if Hillary Clinton can't keep Bernie Sanders's white voters on her team - if they choose not to vote or worse, vote for Donald Trump - she's going to lose.

GREENE: If you were to advise Hillary Clinton's campaign...

TYLER: (Laughter).

GREENE: I'm not suggesting that is any - that is likely to happen at any point in any time in the near future, but what's the single most important piece of advice you would give to that campaign?

TYLER: You've got to learn to dominate the news cycle. Donald Trump got up every morning and said something on Twitter that captured the news cycle's imagination. Then he would call in to the morning shows and own the day. And that's something that Hillary has not been willing to do.

She's not been accessible to the press, historically. She's going to have to figure out how to be better at that game than he is.

GREENE: Rick Tyler, thanks a lot.

TYLER: Appreciate it.

GREENE: Rick Tyler is the former communications director for Republican candidate Ted Cruz. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.