Josh King - "Off Script" and Creating a Presidential Tableau

May 3, 2016 - Josh King 05/03/2016 Views: 4,149

Josh King discusses his book "Off Script," political theatrics and potential strategies for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign against Donald Trump. (5:27)

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My guest tonight isa former director of production

for presidential eventsat the White House,

and authorof the new book Off Script.

Please welcome Josh King!

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

How are you, Mr. King?

I'm very well, Trevor.How are you?

I like how you haveyour presidential wave down.

-(laughter) -You have that...yeah, you have that...

you have that really, uh, down.

Um, let's startwith a mini introduction.

A lot of people don't know thatpeople like you actually exist.

That didn't sound right...

because you weren't waiting forthe next part of the sentence.

But you are basicallythe Wizard of Oz

when it comesto presidential campaigns.

Everything we see candidates do,men like you are making them do.

Yeah, Trevor.

Except that Donald Trump

is trying to put usout of business.

Uh, he... because he's so goodat what he does, in some ways.

And when I came out here, weused to have President Clinton

turn around to the media,which would be on this...

on the balcony over here,and waving

and get a beautiful backdropof the studio audience.

And so that was how we set upthese imagery.

I would be up therewith photographers,

and I'd say,"Mr. President, turn around!"

And he'd wave.

And we'd get this wonderfulbackdrop of humanity.

So-so, what you're saying is

everything we see is designedto evoke an emotion.

I mean, that's-that's whatyou're basically saying

in the book.Every event is designed

to showcase the candidates.

We create a tableau,whether it's in Indiana--

some of those scenesthat you showed earlier

of Ted Cruz, or...

Where-where he's called ita basketball ring.

-That wasn't planned.-That was not planned.

-Okay, okay. -And you wouldbrief the candidate

before they'd go on stage.

-It's a rim. -Say, "That isa hoop, and it is a rim."

"It is not a ring."

In terms of the candidatethemselves,

looking at what they do, a lotof people don't know this--

I was... I was really intriguedby the fact that

there are small "spontaneous"moments that are planned.

For instance,Hillary on the subway--

riding the subway--you have to plan that.

Now, I'm assuming you don't planthe card not working.

Someone should have told her

there's a certainje ne sais quoi

as it goes through the swiper.

And what she was doing that dayup in the Bronx

at 161st Street was to takea subway ride two stops up

for a morning interviewwith Matt Lauer.

And, of course,Secret Service has to secure...

has to have a bubble with herand go through the turnstiles.

But in this day and age,everyone with a cell phone

is a member of the press pool,

so as she was swiping away,there were 20 cameras on her,

they got out instantly,

and before she couldeven get up to Matt Lauer,

there was a thousand tweetsabout Hillary at 161st Street

unable to getthrough the turnstile.

What do you sayto a person in that...

'cause you worked... you workedwith the Clintons before,

so were you part of... if-if youwere part of this campaign,

what would you have saidto-to stem that tide?

Well, I can't rememberexactly what she did,

but by-by noontime or 2:00 p.m.,

she was alreadymaking jokes about it.

And as much as peoplehad fun with it for that day--

look, she had a great,uh, primary in New York,

she's on her wayto the nomination--

I argue in some waysthat these photographs

have less staying power now

than they did back in my day,

and-and, before that,Dukakis in the tank

and Clinton's years,Bush's years,

and the early Obama years,because before we know it,

there's something elseto replace it.

Basketball rings come in,

we forget all about161st Street with Hillary.

It's, uh, it's, uh,the 24-second news cycle now.

-It really is. -That'sbasically what we're working in.

If you're lookingat the campaign now,

it looks likelythat Trump will be facing up

-against Hillary... facing offagainst Hillary. -Yeah.

Now...

Hillary has shown thatshe plays by these rules.

These are the rulesthat you helped...

She's a traditional candidatein many respects.

-...Bill Clinton with. Yeah.-Yeah.

You taught him to doa lot of these things.

Now Hillary is realizing thatthose things don't work anymore,

because she is up againstthe sunset, so...

...how does she pivot?

Is there something she can do,or is it just a game of chance?

Well, she's in a tough spotbecause she either

can be completelyunrestrained on the stump

and then Mr. Trump will-will

come after her for being, uh...

for ha-having an elevated tonein her voice.

Or she can play it the waySenator and then President Obama

did for so many years--just the teleprompter, please.

I'm not gonnago off-script at all.

And then Trump is after herfor being too programmed.

So it's a very,uh, asymmetrical opponent

that she's gonna facethis summer and fall,

if it's Donald Trump.

Parting words-- Donald Trump--

do you think he's gonnachange campaigns forever?

If-if, perchance, he wins, uh,

I say the last third of my bookis the vanilla presidency,

as it describes,uh, 2009 through 2017.

Which is Obama's pre...

Which is Obama's term in office.

Chocolate-vanilla,but yeah, I get you.

-Uh, uh, you get it. Uh...-(laughs)

But if, by any chance,Donald J. Trump

is on the west front of theU.S. capital on January 2017,

taking the ov... oath of officefor the U.S. president,

it'll be anything butthe vanilla presidency.

I'm-I'm excited.I'm thinking about it now.

-The Tang presidency. That'swhat we'll go with. -Okay.

-Thank you so much for beinghere. -Thanks, Trevor.

Off Script is available now.A fascinating read.

Josh King, everybody.We'll be right back.