POLITICO Mag: How Trump Has Turned Vulnerability Into Power — One Image at a Time

I spoke to Michael Kruse for his POLITICO Magazine piece on former President Trump’s gift for image-making in light of the iconic photos from this weekend’s attempt on his life.

“Visuals matter more than words,” former House speaker and Trump ally Newt Gingrich wrote in his book called Understanding Trump in 2017. “How you look is more important than how you sound,” Stone told me in 2018. “He has,” Republican strategist Liam Donovan said to me on Sunday, “a handful of instincts and impulses that have served him well, but the primacy of aesthetics and image-making really is the core.”

Read the full piece here.

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WaPo: Why Sanders, AOC threw Biden a lifeline as his candidacy floundered

I spoke to Jeff Stein for his Washington Post piece on the decision of high profile progressives to bail out Joe Biden when his candidacy was on the ropes.

Liam Donovan, a GOP strategist, said the endorsements from Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez reflect the reality that any replacement at the top of the Democratic ticket would be less likely to cater to the left than Biden, who has stocked his administration with former staffers to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“The support reflects the fact that Biden has tacked strongly to the left since winning the 2020 primary as an amiable centrist, and any non-Biden alternative is apt to be less aligned with the progressive agenda,” Donovan said.

But while “AOC and company boosting Biden at a perilous moment may help him secure the nomination,” Donovan added, “it doesn’t help him claw back in the Rust Belt states that will decide this election.”

Read the full piece here.

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Boston Globe: Is Project 2025, Trump’s right-wing agenda, Biden’s rescue plan?

I spoke to the Boston Globe’s Sam Brodey for his piece about Project 2025 and its utility for the embattled Biden campaign.

Some Republicans see the political calculations at play and grant they could be effective. Liam Donovan, a longtime GOP staffer and lobbyist, said the focus on Project 2025 could “keep the heat off [Biden] long enough to get him through this stretch.”If Biden does, Donovan predicted Project 2025 could remain a Democratic rallying cry. “It’s like it’s, Remember the Alamo, right?” he said. “It’s going to be a pithy phrase that serves as a call to, ‘I don’t care how you feel about Joe Biden or whether you feel like voting … it’s too important because of Project 2025.’”

This deserves its own post, because the hysteria over what is a pretty standard, public facing, and transparent thought leadership effort by a well-known and well-credentialed think tank is totally over the top, but the strategy is clear, and rather clever. Rather than handwaving about the fate of democracy or other cringe hyperbole, Dems now have a shorthand for how to point to the policy stakes of this election, a single phrase that can redirect from frustration with Biden to fear of Trump. It has clearly found traction on the left, and the Trump campaign is not taking any chances, distancing themselves from the exercise, as they have done with all unsanctioned transition efforts as far back as last year. One thing I haven’t seen noted elsewhere as the story picks up steam is that the official Trump Transition will be up and running soon, with a team sanctioned both by the campaign, and by the U.S. Government via the Presidential Transition Act. Not as much fun as the Heritage bogeyman, but at some level more revealing.

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Semafor: Trump and Biden are competing to QB the Super Bowl of tax policy

I spoke to Joseph Zeballos-Roig for his Semafor piece with Jordan Weissman on the massive tax policy stakes of the 2024 election. In their comprehensive look at the looming “Super Bowl of Tax,” they asked me who is most influential in Trump’s orbit on these issues. (I don’t think they took my answer of “the last person he talked to” as seriously as it easily intended.) My response:

“He gravitates toward donors and other people he views as successful; people he sees on CNBC and Fox Business; and people he trusts as loyal whose positions line up with his instincts,” said Liam Donovan, a GOP strategist. “That’s the Venn Diagram, and it sometimes results in a hodgepodge of policy prescriptions.”

Read the full piece here.

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