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Mon 8 Jun 2020 01:44 PM

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Anthony Scaramucci: 'I don't care if you're President Trump or president Obama'

In an exclusive column for Arabian Business, Anthony Scaramucci lifts the lid on Covid-19, racism... and his awkward relationship with his former boss

Anthony Scaramucci: 'I don't care if you're President Trump or president Obama'

The biggest mistake President Trump made was on the testing side.

If you've got 4% of the world's population in the United States, and you've got over 100,000 deaths - that's roughly 28% of deaths globally related to Covid-19 - you'd be hard pressed to say we've done a great job in handling the pandemic.

The flip side of it though, is in the United States, because of the culture, it would have been impossible to shut down the economy on the same day that the South Koreans shut down their economy. I don't care if you're President Trump or president Obama - you can easily look at it from a hindsight perspective and say, ‘we could have shut the economy down,’ but I don't think you can do that in our country that easily.

Could they have shut down the economy in mid or late February? Yes. Did they have to wait until March 16th? No. But I don't think it's fair to say, ‘well Trump should have shut it down the same day as the South Koreans’. I don't think the country was ready for that. The good news is that going forward the country will be ready for that.

Trump’s biggest mistake

But no, we haven't handled it well, and the president wasn't telling the truth. He himself has said these press conferences have hurt him politically. You can't yell fake news. You can't yell fake science. You can't tell people 2+2=7, because they can see on their hands that 2+2=4. That's been a big problem for him.

And that's the crisis of leadership in the United States. In the UAE, they can move pretty quickly because there’s one ruler as opposed to a full blown democracy, so they can move pretty quickly and they did a very good job in containing the crisis. The problem in the US is that it's a very fragmented state by state solution.

The biggest mistake President Trump made was on the testing side. He said repeatedly, ‘I don't want to test people, because the data comes back, and the data is not good for me,’ meaning there are more cases. That's a crazy way to think about it. Trump would be way better off flooding the country with testing so we can actually figure out who has the disease, so we can ask those people to quarantine themselves, which would allow the rest of the people to go out and work.

So ironically, the lack of testing has actually hurt the country, whereas somewhere in the UAE or Singapore or South Korea, you can get tested and they say, ‘okay we have to quarantine you until you're no longer infectious’. So now Vegas is asking for testing - and the UAE is sending it testing kits - because they figured out that the more people they can test, the easier it will be to open up their economy.

So if the UAE has the tests and can get access to the tests, they're operating autonomously away from the federal government. That's telling you right there that there's been a failure of leadership at the US federal government level.

Show me the money

I want to be fair to President Trump. I’m obviously against him and I want to see him lose, but the one problem is if we demonise him and his every action then his supporters become very ardent in terms of his support.

I would rather talk about him very objectively and fairly. On the giving out $1,000 checks to Americans, for example, I don't think he had a choice. If you look at lower-to-middle income people, the sad and tragic thing about our country is we have a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck. So if you're shutting down the country, if you don't provide them with some kind of money, you're going to have a really upside down country. He had to give out some money to prevent anarchy and social upheaval.

The winner takes it all

The flip side is, he is going to manoeuvre things politically, or from a media perspective, that could slant things to his direction. What we know about him morally is he'll do anything to win the election.

The rise of police brutality and the rise of elemental racism definitely help Vice President Biden, because he's in a position to gain those voters. But Trump wants to stop the mail-in ballots and suppress the vote because he's figured out that if he suppresses the vote in certain precincts then it will help his chances to win. That's also going to be a factor in this; voter suppression and mail-in ballots. He's mailing his ballot, but he doesn't want the average American to mail in his ballot.

Remember you can never count him out. I know. I worked for him. I was with him on October 7, 2016, which was the Hollywood Access Tape. He was saying all those things on the tape, and when you did the flash polling that weekend, he was down in the polls 12-13%. That was a month before the election, and he still won the election. Granted, he was running against Hillary Clinton. They’re two different personalities, Hillary versus Joe Biden.

But I think he is going to lose the election, because the economic havoc combined with his style on Twitter and his bullying has really disaffected a large group of voters. If you look at women voters over the age of 50, he's really lost that support, and he's lost that support across the country and in those six important swing states, he's really lost them.

So the real question is, can he gain those voters back? Unless he can make some significant changes in his operating style and the way he is communicating with people, it's going to be hard for him to win. But again, in Trump world, 150 days out from the election is like 200 years in Trump world. It's like going back to George Washington. You can't predict. But I do feel that people are now exhausted from him and feel like they have got to get back to something that's a little bit more normal.

Anthony Scaramucci is the Former White House Communications Director and founder of global investments firm Sky Bridge and thought leadership platform Salt Conference

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