Lewandowski: Americans Voted for Trump ‘To Be Himself’

The president's former campaign manager says his supporters don't want him to change

Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, said during an interview Monday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that the American people voted for Trump “to be himself,” and urged the president to hold fast to his campaign promises in the face of continued criticism.

Noting that former Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly became the new White House chief of staff Monday, Lewandowski said that if Kelly wishes to be successful he will learn “very quickly” that he has “to let Trump be Trump.” Pointing to Trump’s 40 years as a successful businessman, executive and author, Lewandowski said that the core of who Trump is has been so deeply ingrained that the president will not bend to criticism from the mainstream media and political establishment.

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“[Trump] doesn’t want to change. And that’s not what the American people voted for. They didn’t vote to have Donald Trump change. They voted for him to be himself,” he said. “And what I think General Kelly is going to bring is discipline to the staff. He’s the chief of staff. He’s not the chief of the president.”

“And if [Kelly] is able to do his job, which I think he will — which will be limiting the backbiting and the infighting amongst the individuals who are serving inside the administration — that is a very, very important thing, and put everybody on one agenda, which is the Trump agenda,” Lewandowski added.

When LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham pointed to Trump’s low approval numbers after serving six months in office, the president’s former campaign manager noted that Trump’s critics in the political establishment and the left-wing media have been highlighting the GOP Congress’ lack of legislative accomplishments. With the repeated failures to pass a bill repealing and replacing Obamacare and the lack of progress on tax and infrastructure reform, Trump’s accomplishments have been glossed over and undermined, Lewandowski said.

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“He has not had a significant legislative accomplishment yet, which I think is a shame, considering the Republicans control both the House and the Senate and the White House, and they haven’t moved that big legislative agenda that they should have done,” Lewandowski said. “You couple that with the fact that we have not started building the wall, we do not have tax reform done, we don’t have repeal and replace done, we don’t have a massive infrastructure spending bill done. And people are starting to question, you know, can anybody truly change a broken Washington, D.C.?”

After the Republicans’ embarrassing and repeated failures to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare permeated the news cycle during the last few months, Lewandowski said that the Trump administration made a mistake in not tackling tax reform first.

“If that would have gotten done, people would be saying it’s the most successful presidency in the first six months ever,” he said. “And instead, this president has gotten no credit for [Supreme Court Justice] Neil Gorsuch, no credit for personally injecting himself into the removal of the U.S. citizens sitting in an Egyptian prison that he released, none of the credit for cutting the government regulations and trying to reduce the bureaucracy because [health care reform] is not done yet. And that has to get done.”

“I’ve been very clear — if anybody makes pledges on the campaign trail and they don’t fulfill those pledges, they need to be held accountable,” Lewandowski added.

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Trump’s former campaign manager also lamented that the president’s transition team wasn’t “well-prepared for the transition and didn’t have these names ready” to appoint candidates to fill vacant government posts.

“There’s also the fault of the administration for not filling all of the vacancies and getting rid of all of the holdovers of the previous administration,” Lewandowski said. “And what we have seen is the ‘deep state’ is very real. And there are many, many, many individuals who continue to serve in senior positions inside the government that were there from the previous administration, and their job is to make sure that this agenda does not move forward. That is very clear. And that is part of the reason why [Trump’s] approval numbers are not where they should be.”

But he said he still has faith in Trump and his strong desire to work tirelessly to fulfill his campaign promises and push his legislative agenda forward. When Ingraham asked him about the maternity leave legislation the president’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, is promoting with the help of Senate Democrats and Republicans, Lewandowski urged the president to focus on the economic issues he campaigned on so strongly.

“Social issues are important to a lot of people, but they’re not putting more money in people’s pockets, they’re not creating jobs,” Lewandowski said. “But let’s get back to the basics. Let’s have less government regulations. Let’s reduce the burden on small businesses. Let’s create an environment so that small business can grow. Let’s put people back to work. These are the things that people care about. Let’s give tax cuts to middle-class Americans so they can decide what to do with it.”

“The president takes counsel from a lot of people, but at the end of the day, he is always the final decision-maker,” he added.

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