Exclusive - Josh King Extended Interview

May 3, 2016 - Josh King 05/03/2016 Views: 2,614

"Off Script" author Josh King describes the importance of bringing presidential candidates into settings in which they're comfortable. (6:49)

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Our guest tonight isa former Director of Production

for Presidential Eventsat the White House

and author of the new book Off Script. Please welcome

Josh King!

-♪ -(cheering and applause)

How are you, Mr. King?

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

I like how you haveyour presidential wave down.

You have that...yeah, you-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 tryingto put us out 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, what you're saying is,

everything we see is designedto evoke an emotion?

I mean, that's what you'rebasically saying in the book.

Every event is designedto showcase the candidates?

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

some of those scenes

that you showed earlierof Ted Cruz-- or...

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."

-(laughter)-"It is not a ring."

I mean... I mean...

What do you doin that situation?

What do you do?So, you're telling...

You would have plannedthe Ted Cruz thing.

Let's say you would haveworked with him,

and you would have planned thatwith him.

Would you have go,"Okay, you need to go

"with the Hoosier referencefrom the movie,

because it's goingto evoke emotion."?

You were planning that with him.

Well, first of all,you want to make sure

you bring candidates to settingsthat they're comfortable with.

President Obama, PresidentClinton would be an easy booking

for a basketball arena.

They were big hoop fans.

Now, I don't know if Senator...if Senator Cruz is a...

watches a lot of ESPN,but if he's not,

I wouldn't want to put himin a sports-like setting,

because they goof up like this.

-Senator Cruz had a chance...-(laughter)

Senator Cruz had a chance tomaybe stem the tide in Indiana.


But last week, when he madethe basketball ring reference,

for 24 or 36 hours,

that's all the shows like yoursand morning shows

and evening showscould talk about.

So, we were mocking him

up to this very momentof your monologue.

And poor Ted Cruz-- he's atthe final... final run of this.

I thinkthat's the wrong nickname.

-The nickname is"Lying Ted Cruz." -Yeah.


In terms of the candidatesthemselves,

looking at what they do,a lot of people don't know this.

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

there are small, spontaneousmoments 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 say to a personin that--

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

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

what would you have saidto stem that tide?

Well, I can't rememberexactly what she did,

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

she was already making jokesabout it.

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

look, she had a great primaryin New York,

she's on her wayto the nomination--

I argue in some waysthat these photographs

have less staying power nowthan they did back in my day,

and, before that,Dukakis in the tank

-Yeah. -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

-Yeah. -against Hillary...facing off against Hillary.


Hillary has shown thatshe plays by these rules.

These are the rulesthat you helped...

She's a traditional candidate

-...Bill Clinton with. Yeah.-in many respects. 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?

Do you think guys like youwill be out of a job?

Because, I mean,Trump has shown if you can riff

you can get votes.

Well, we'll see the final tallyin November on election night.

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.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)