3 years ago

INTERVIEW: Yellowhammer’s Cliff Sims goes behind-the-scenes of Trump’s historic win


(Audio above: Yellowhammer Radio’s Scott Beason and Andrea Tice interview Trump advisor Cliff Sims, who is on leave of absence as Yellowhammer’s CEO.)

Americans across the country tuned into to their television sets Tuesday night and witnessed Donald Trump’s incredible upset victory. Dedicated viewers even had the chance to see Trump come out and deliver his final campaign speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning. But while many were watching their new President-elect from behind the barrier of a tv screen, few had as good a seat to witness history as Yellowhammer founder and CEO Cliff Sims.

Sims, who transformed Yellowhammer from his personal political blog into one of the most influential publications in Alabama, has been on a leave of absence from the company since September working as a top communications advisor for Trump. During his time with the campaign, Sims even hosted video news sessions on Trump’s Facebook page, which were seen by millions of users.

After the euphoria of victory, Sims called into Yellowhammer Radio this week to discuss his experiences with hosts Scott Beason and Andrea Tice. A lightly edited transcript of their conversation can be found below, and the full audio of the interview can be heard in the video above.

Scott:

So I guess you probably stayed up all night on Election Night. My wife swears she saw you on TV standing beside Senator Sessions.

Cliff:

I was by Senator Sessions a good bit last night. The coolest thing though was standing right next to Mr. Trump and watching the returns come in and hearing all the phone conversations with people calling him. He’s kind of superstitious, though. People were calling him and saying “congratulations,” but he would cut them off and say, “Oh, we’re not there yet.” He kept saying, “We’re two strokes up with one hole to go,” even when it was clear he was about to win. It was fascinating — a really cool experience. And I think it was a vindication of everything that Mr. Trump and Senator Sessions and others have been saying for months and years now — that there are a lot of people all over the country who are so frustrated with political process that they had kind of checked out and weren’t participating. And finally they felt they had a candidate on the ticket that was worth getting out and voting for. That’s why we just saw records in voter registration, records in voter turnout in a lot of places. I don’t know what these pollsters are going to do, but they probably need to find a new line of work.

Scott:

I like that Mr. Trump said that this was not all about him — that it was about a movement. I think the reason people were drawn to him was because he was saying the very things that regular Americans have been saying. I sent you a text before the election talking about the good job y’all have done up there. Trump stayed stayed very, very focused on talking about the issues and people finally said, “You know what? We’re going to give this a chance.” I can’t say enough about what he did and the job that y’all have done.

Cliff:

All the credit goes to him on that. It’s been ridiculous reading some of the news reports with people claiming, “Oh, the staff has taken away his Twitter account.” They were just completely making stuff up. But to your point about him making this not about himself but about this movement, I think it can really be summed up in the fact that Hillary Clinton’s slogan was “I’m with Her” and Donald Trump was all about “I’m with You, I’m with the voters and this is about us.” I thought that the tone that he struck in his victory speech was exactly what the country needed. He came out and said, “I’m ready to be the President of all Americans and let’s come together and get this country back on track.” Seventy percent of the voters in the exit poll said they thought the country was on the wrong track and they were ready for change. That’s really the storyline. People voted for a man, yes. They voted for a movement, yes. But really what they really voted for was change.

That’s what we’re seeing here in Trump Tower today — the transition team preparing to put people in place who are going to implement this change that we’ve all been so hungry for for so long.

(More after the image)

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Donald J. Trump, and communications advisor Cliff Sims watch returns come in on Election Night.
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Donald J. Trump, and communications advisor Cliff Sims watch returns come in on Election Night.
Andrea:

You know Cliff, I just want to come in here and say I really appreciated Trump’s acceptance speech. I thought it was really well done, I thought it was graceful. It was humble and he acknowledged it was not all about him, it was about the people and he did a great job.

Cliff:

A lot of these folks hire a ton of speechwriters and they just kind of read whatever is on the screen, but he has known this whole time what he has wanted to say… I think he’s already proven a lot of people wrong when they were constantly criticizing him for his temperament, saying, “Who knows what he’s going to do? He’s going to be the most divisive President in history.” It’s been pretty funny watching the media freak. But Andrea, I’m glad it came through that way because that’s really what he wanted in his heart, for people to really feel the way you did when you heard him speak.

Scott:

He came across as very genuine. My question to you is, do you believe that Donald Trump plans to do what he said he was going to do?

Cliff:

Yeah, I mean he’s been really explicit about “Here’s what I’m going to do in the first 100 days in office, here’s what I’m going to do on the first day in office.” One of the things that’s not getting talked about a lot right now is the importance of Republicans maintaining control of the Senate. It’s a slim majority, but it’s a majority none the less, and there’s a strong majority in the House. So voters were pretty clear last night about what they want and now they have a President who is a strong leader who will work closely with Congress to pass his policy priorities.

Scott:

Donald Trump has kind of broken the mold by winning states that Republicans weren’t ever supposed to ever win in again… I think there’s an opportunity here to break the stranglehold that the Democrats have had on minority populations.

Cliff:

How many Republicans would have gone to Detroit and delivered a speech about urban renewal mere weeks before election day and highlight things like school choice and making our communities safer? No matter what color you are, we all want a few core things. We need a job, we need to be able to put food on the table and provide for our families; we want the opportunity to give our children a better life and leave them a better country than we inherited; and we want safety and security. Mr. Trump went into these communities that both Republicans and Democrats have ignored and delivered a message that really resonated with them, and they voted for him on Election Day.

I’m about to have to run here at the Tower and jump into a meeting but I wanted to be sure to give you guys a call. I miss the whole Yellowhammer family and obviously appreciate Alabama’s support for the campaign. Senator Sessions was here a few minutes ago and said to make sure to tell everybody down there how much he appreciates Alabama’s support and we couldn’t be prouder to be representing Alabama up here.

Scott:

Hey Cliff, I’m not asking you but a caller just called in and asked what position you were taking with the Trump administration?

Cliff:

I look forward to being back in Alabama.

15 mins ago

Ivey to toll detractors: ‘Nobody wants to pay for anything — We just always want the benefits’; Calls for other ‘reasonable solutions’

On Monday, the political battle over the proposed tolling for the new I-10 Mobile Bayway Bridge escalated when Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth came out in opposition to the toll. Following in Ainsworth’s footsteps and coming out against the proposal as well was another heavy-hitter, State Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh.

Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey, who has insisted on the necessity of the project and warned that “cost of doing nothing” was too high, offered a response to detractors.

Ivey indicated to Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg, co-hosts of Birmingham radio Talk 99.5’s “The Matt & Aunie Show,” that a reaction to a toll was to be expected. She also said she would listen to alternatives at the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority meeting scheduled for October 7.

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“Nobody wants to pay for anything,” she said. “We just always want the benefits. If somebody has got a better idea of what the toll should be or if we should never toll. That’s the reason I’m hosting the October 7 meeting at the State Capitol for the Toll Bridge and Road Authority – so people can put reasonable solutions on the table. How do we pay for the bridge?”

“Everybody would be for not having to have a toll,” Ivey added. “I just haven’t found that option yet. It’s the reason we’re hosting this meeting with state legislators, congressional delegation, constitutional officers have all been invited to come and be specific and offer some reasonable solutions of how we can pay for the bridge without using a toll or a lower toll.”

Earlier this year, the Alabama legislature raised the state’s gas tax, part of the Rebuild Alabama Act. That had some questioning the timing of the toll coming on the heels of a gas tax increase. According to Ivey, gas tax revenue alone would hardly cover the cost of the bridge.

“When we paid the gas tax, we only did 10 cents,” she said. “It’s a lot of money for some folks, but 10 cents only brings in $320 million annually for roads and bridges across the state. The bridge itself costs $2.1 billion … the gas tax is for statewide projects, not just one project.”

When asked about the timing of her awareness of a toll for the project, Ivey did not offer a specific time. However, she did mention a specific each-way price tag of $2.25, which varied from the $6 each-way toll in many reports.

“They’ve been talking about this bridge for 20-something-odd years for the environmental impact,” Ivey said. “I don’t know when exactly I heard the proposal but $2.25 one-way doesn’t seem too unreasonable.”

According to the governor’s office, the $2.25 Ivey cited referred to the average for the frequent user. The $2.25 cost would be the average price for five days a week for four weeks with the purchase of the proposed frequent user pass at a cost of $90 per month. Also, with the proposed pass, crossing the bridge would unlimited, and the $2.25 average could vary depending on how many times a pass holder crosses in a given month.

When asked about the prospects of additional toll projects throughout the state, Ivey told Talk 99.5 she was unaware of any.

“I’m not aware of any, and the toll roads we do have are on private property as far as I know now there are no other plans for a toll road on state or federal highways,” she said.

When asked about those suggesting U.S. Highway 280 in Birmingham or other roads being tolled, Ivey decried it as “misinformation.”

“So much misinformation out there is intentional,” Ivey said. “It’s just unconscionable for folks to be considering such information. It’s easy to verify what you hear before you spout it. I just encourage everybody to look on the big side of prosperity and let’s build the bridge so we can strengthen commerce and strengthen public safety, and keep our state productive.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 hour ago

7 Things: ‘No tolls’ chorus gains powerful allies, impeachment talks still a thing, Democrats in Alabama keep fighting and more …

7. How romantic

  • Starting on August 29, Alabama will no longer issue marriage licenses. Couples will now just have to submit a notarized marriage certificate that will be recorded by probate judges instead of being issued by probate judges.
  • Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger said that this new process means people don’t have to get a license “in advance and a ceremony is no longer required, although couples may certainly have a ceremony if they wish.”

6. No more Moore, please

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  • The defamation lawsuit filed by Roy Moore against the women who accused him of misconduct has been paused by Circuit Judge Albert Johnson, that is until the defamation lawsuit against Roy Moore filed by Leigh Corfman, one of his accusers, is resolved.
  • While Moore has said that he went to court to clear his name, he hasn’t succeeded yet. He stated, “Nothing that’s happened to me has been fair in court.”

4. Omar and Tlaib show why Israel banned them

  • U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) held a news conference where they spoke about being banned from traveling to Israel, a country that they attempted to start a boycott against, and they have now condemned Israel’s decision which garnered them a rebuke in the form of a condemnation by a member of the Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee.
  • During Omar’s statement, she referenced how the U.S. gives Israel $3 billion in aid every year, but their action of “denying a visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally.” Omar went on to suggest that Israel is attempting to keep Omar and Tlaib from doing their jobs.

4. Elizabeth Warren and her “white privilege”

  • First, there was a botched DNA rollout that showed 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was 1/1024th Native American, now Warren has descended on a gathering of Native Americans to offer a half-hearted apology for lying about her ancestry for decades.
  • There’s a no greater example of what Democrats and their media refer to as “cultural appropriation” as Warren’s use of another race to get ahead, yet anyone who mocks her for it is deemed “racist.”

3. Democrats and Doug Jones keep fighting

  • The Alabama Democratic Party can’t stop their pointless war of words with the most successful Alabama Democrat of the last decade in the run-up to some inner-party battles and U.S. Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) unlikely reelection.
  • Jones’ unsuccessful attempt to topple Chairwoman Nancy Worley and the leadership-chosen Alabama Democratic Conference has been called “racial” and brought a threat from the ADC, which warned Jones, “Don’t start what you can’t end.”

2. Impeach Trump fight gets more support

  • Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) has announced his support of impeaching President Trump since “moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, which will continue to uncover the facts for the American people and hold this president accountable.”
  • Lujan explained his reasoning for supporting impeachment, saying, “Numerous experts have warned that these attacks are ongoing to this day. And when faced with this evidence from his own government, President Trump has failed to act. Not only has he ignored the warnings that our Democracy is being targeted, but he has also actively encouraged Russian interference.”

1. Seriously, no tolls

  • Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth, Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) have joined the growing chorus of anti-toll advocates.
  • Marsh has the most power here and said that he’s going to “explore all legislative options to ensure this project is fair and reasonable for the citizens of South Alabama – and a $6 toll is not fair or reasonable.” Currently, Governor Kay Ivey has a meeting planned for October 7 to discuss the toll bridge with the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

2 hours ago

Alabama Economic Growth Summit to return this October

Telegraph Creative on Tuesday announced it will be hosting the Alabama Economic Growth Summit October 24-25 at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, bringing back the event first held by Yellowhammer Multimedia three years ago.

Alabama Power is the title sponsor for the summit, which will bring together a diverse group of powerful and influential leaders in pursuit of four overall objectives:

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1. Celebrate Alabama’s economic development successes,
2. Rally the state’s major economic development stakeholders around our common goals of job creation and increased prosperity,
3. Facilitate dialogue on the most important issues facing our economy,
4. Drive massive media coverage around Alabama’s commitment to attracting companies and creating an overall environment that’s conducive to growth.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard A. Grenell, Deputy U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and numerous members of Alabama’s congressional delegation will be among the senior federal government officials participating in the program, along with numerous high-ranking state-level officials from both the legislative and executive branches.

From the private sector, conference organizers told Yellowhammer News that CEOs, venture capitalists, site selectors and economic developers from around the state and nation will be among the speakers and panelists.

A major highlight of the summit will be national media personalities, including Axios executive editor Mike Allen, in attendance covering the event and guiding panel discussions.

The event was first held by Yellowhammer in 2016 when Cliff Sims was the company’s CEO. Now president of Telegraph Creative, Sims is bringing the summit back this year.

“When we launched this event in 2016 at Yellowhammer, our goal was to bring together the state’s leaders around our shared goals of more jobs and increased prosperity for all Alabamians,” he explained to Yellowhammer News on Tuesday. “We’re going to continue that mission this year.”

“Alabama’s had some big economic development wins in recent years. This Summit is all about building on that momentum, and we’re thrilled to have buy-in from the state’s key leaders in both the public and private sectors,” Sims added.

Sims will be on the event’s host committee, which also includes Yellowhammer Multimedia publisher Allison Ross and a host of public and private sector titans, such as:

Will Ainsworth
Lieutenant Governor
State of Alabama

Katie Britt
President
Business Council of Alabama

Stephanie Bryan
Tribal Chair and CEO
Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Mark Crosswhite
Chairman, President and CEO
Alabama Power

Deontée Gordon
President
TechBirmingham

Johnny Johns
Executive Chairman
Protective Life Corporation

Mike Kemp
President and CEO
Kemp Management Solutions

James K. Lyons
CEO
Alabama State Port Authority

Del Marsh
President Pro Tem
Alabama Senate

Mac McCutcheon
Speaker of the House
Alabama House of Representatives

Jimmy Parnell
CEO
Alfa

Liz Pharo
Managing Partner
Featheringill Capital

Jimmy Rane
President and CEO
Great Southern Wood

Jeana Ross
Secretary
Department of Early Childhood Education

Finis St. John
Chancellor
University of Alabama System

Lee Sentell
Director
Alabama Department of Tourism

Gary Smith
President and CEO
PowerSouth

Fitzgerald Washington
Commissioner
Alabama Department of Labor

A complete list of keynote speakers, panelists and VIP guests will be announced in the coming days. Tickets to the event are available now online here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Jones keynoting event highlighting opportunities for Alabama-Israel tech partnerships

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Tuesday will keynote an event entitled “Opportunities for Technology Partnerships Between Alabama and Israeli Businesses” in Birmingham.

The Birmingham Business Alliance, Conexx: America Israel Business Connector, the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation and Alabama Power Company are hosting the event, which will include an overview of Israel’s technology ecosystem and the BIRD Foundation, as well as a panel of business leaders on doing business in Israel.

The event is free but does require online registration.

According to Conexx’s Barry Swartz, Israel is home to more startups than the entire European Union and is second only to the Silicon Valley in terms of the volume of startups it produces.

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Technology like Waze, a GPS navigation software app now owned by Google, and Mobileye, which was purchased by Intel for $15.3 billion in 2017, were created in Israel. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others all have a major presence in the country.

Swartz added that there will be individuals on hand to facilitate a relationship between Israel and Alabama companies looking to explore Israel’s innovation and technology, as well as possible mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances.

Jones is set to speak at 3:30 p.m., with the entire event running from 12:30 p.m. — 5:30 p.m. at Alabama Power’s headquarters building in downtown Birmingham.

RELATED: Sloss Tech is evidence of Birmingham’s vibrant innovation economy

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

ULA’s Alabama-built Vulcan Centaur rocket chosen for 2021 Moon mission

Astrobotic on Monday announced that it has selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket in a competitive commercial procurement to launch its Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon in 2021.

This is slated to be the Vulcan Centaur’s first launch, with development and assembly on schedule at ULA’s world-class Decatur facility.

Astrobotic CEO John Thornton in a statement said the planned 2021 launch will be “a historic day for the country,” powered by the ‘Made in Alabama’ rocket.

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“We are so excited to sign with ULA and fly Peregrine on Vulcan Centaur,” Thornton said. “This contract with ULA was the result of a highly competitive commercial process, and we are grateful to everyone involved in helping us make low-cost lunar transportation possible.”

“When we launch the first lunar lander from American soil since Apollo, onboard the first Vulcan Centaur rocket, it will be a historic day for the country and commercial enterprise,” he concluded.

Astrobotic, the world leader in commercial delivery to the moon, was selected by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver up to 14 NASA payloads to the Moon on its Peregrine lunar lander in 2021. With this $79.5 million CLPS award, Astrobotic has now signed 16 customers for lunar delivery on its first mission.

“Our rockets have carried exploration missions to the moon, the sun and every planet in the solar system so it is only fitting that Vulcan Centaur’s inaugural flight will lead the return of Americans to the lunar surface,” Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, emphasized. “We could not be more excited to fly this mission for Astrobotic.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), a champion of American space exploration and Alabama’s aerospace industry, celebrated the announcement in a tweet.

The launch of this mission will serve as the first of two certification flights required for ULA’s U.S. Air Force certification process for the Vulcan Centaur. The company recently submitted its proposal for Phase II of the Launch Service Procurement’ competition.

Bruno said ULA’s partnership with Astrobotic is indicative of how the American space industry is excelling, with Alabama playing an integral role.

“This partnership represents a true ‘whole-of-government’ approach to how our nation is leading the world in space: NASA contracted with a commercial company to land on the moon, who then went on to contract with a commercial company for a rocket built to serve the national security space market,” Bruno advised.

He concluded, “This highlights the power of our American system of partnership between government and industry to solve the toughest problems and the greatest of our human aspirations.”

RELATED: ULA chosen for six missions, lauded for ‘proven safety record and on-time performance’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn