Laura Ingraham: How I Knew Trump Would Survive the ‘Access Hollywood’ Leak

In her book, the talk-radio host says Ben Carson and a crowd in California told her the candidate hadn't lost his base

In her new book, “Billionaire at the Barricades,” talk-radio host and LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham describes the scene in Bakersfield, California, where she’d gone to give a speech the day after the release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape, on which Donald Trump engages in crude talk about women with TV host Billy Bush.

Instead of demoralized conservatives and Republicans at the Bakersfield Business Conference on Oct. 8, 2016, Ingraham and Ben Carson, who was also speaking that day, found energetic voters.

Some even told Ingraham to “keep battling” for Trump. It was not what she’d been expecting.

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“Given the sordid news of the past 24 hours, my excitement about appearing before thousands of Republicans a month before the election turned to dread,” Ingraham writes. “Of course there was no defending the Trump comments, which I found personally reprehensible and disgusting … My main task during my 30-minute presentation was to keep everyone focused on the prize — keeping Hillary Clinton from the presidency and electing someone who could implement the conservative populist reforms we needed. If I revealed even a hint of my concern about the current mess, the audience would sense it and become demoralized.”

Ingraham saw Carson on her way to the stage to give her speech.

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“Never a dull moment,” he quipped.

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Carson lost to Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary but went on to campaign for him, becoming one of his strongest supporters.

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His calm demeanor on that day in October, one month before Election Day, was the first sign that the damaging story on Trump’s crude talk might not sink him.

Behind the scenes at Trump Tower in Manhattan, some Republicans were panicking. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, advised Trump to drop out of the race. But Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign CEO, told Trump that he was still on track to win.

Ingraham, whom Trump sought out for advice during the 2016 presidential race, knew of some of the talk in Washington and New York about Trump’s being asked to drop out. Just before she was introduced in Bakersfield, she decided to address the issue of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

“I would face the new scandal head-on, express my disgust before the crowd, but then ask them to choose between giving up on Trump and fighting the Washington political machine with everything they had,” Ingraham writes. “I held up my cellphone camera after each question in my mini-poll and filmed the reaction. Hardly anyone seemed to support ditching Trump, while loud cheers erupted after I offered the ‘fight Hillary with everything we have’ option.”

The red counties and red states were showing Ingraham how they felt, she said, with that reaction in Bakersfield.

“Once again, American voters were smarter than the Washington punditocracy and professional Consultant Class,” writes Ingraham. “They weren’t electing a saint; they were electing someone who could help get our economy going and keep our home front safe.”

But the liberal media were not buying it. “Bakersfield: the parallel-universe town where Donald Trump is still surging,” was the headline in the Guardian. Trump’s surge was real, though — as Ingraham predicted. He stunned Clinton, the Democrats, and the world on November 8, winning the White House.

Ingraham, in addition to being the founder and editor-in-chief of LifeZette, has written several New York Times best-sellers, including “Of Thee I Zing” and “Power to the People.” She has hosted “The Laura Ingraham Show” since 2001, becoming the most-listened-to female radio talk-show host in the nation.

Ingraham will begin hosting “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News on October 30, every weekday night at 10 p.m.

“Billionaire at the Barricades” is published by All Point Books, a division of St. Martin’s Press.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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