4 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.

55 mins ago

Sierra Club endorses Joe Biden, calls him ‘champion for climate justice’

Emphasizing its agenda of “climate justice,” the California-based environmental group Sierra Club announced its endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Monday.

In a release touting its intent to elect what it termed “climate champions up and down the ticket,” Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune outlined the desire of his group to defeat President Donald Trump.

“We are confident that Joe Biden will be the champion for climate justice that America needs in the White House,” Brune stated. “As Americans head to the polls in November, our country will be facing crises on multiple fronts, including a climate emergency that disproportionately harms communities of color. This may be the most consequential election of our lives, and it is critical that we replace Donald Trump with a leader who understands the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and is ready to take bold action to solve it.”

Sierra Club has maintained an active presence in Alabama this year.

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In May, Secretary of State John Merrill declared Sierra Club an organization “threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama’s own businesses” through what he called a “shortsighted political agenda.”

Merrill cited lawsuits initiated by Sierra Club to restrict Alabama energy production as part of his contention that the group’s effort in the state would kill jobs.

“The Sierra Club, which is based out of San Francisco, California, does not represent Alabama thinking or values,” Merrill wrote. “It is troubling to see out-of-state activist groups working to influence our state’s power supply and its workers.”

In March, Sierra Club was among the environmentalist groups which descended upon the Alabama Public Service Commission to oppose natural gas usage for power generation.

Sierra Club endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 hour ago

Madison County Commission says it will not break the law to remove a Confederate monument

Alabama is obviously not immune from the racial strife gripping the United States. In recent months, we have seen statues come down, a state representative attended a birthday party for Nathan Bedford Forrest, small riots and acts of vandalism.

Like most Americans, Alabamians have generally accepted that the Confederate memorials all over the state on courthouse squares and in public parks are going to come down. Some are headed to cemeteries, some are headed to storage, and the fate of many is still unknown.

In Madison County, the Huntsville City Council and the Madison County Commission have both voted to move its controversial Confederate statue, and a new resting place at Maple Hill Cemetery has been selected. However, the monument still remains.

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That monument was vandalized last week, and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong did not want to use taxpayer resources to clean it up, so it stands defaced and ugly near the steps of the Madison County Courthouse.

Strong appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Monday and made it clear he wasn’t going to clean it up or force county employees to do so, but he hinted that if someone wanted to clean it up in the dead-of-night, like when it was vandalized, they should have at it.

In the interview, Strong voiced frustration with recent reporting that indicated he and the Madison County Commission have not reached out to Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office seeking a way to remove the statue and pay a $25,000 fine.

The commission views this as a non-starter. Strong believes attempting to “negotiate” breaking the law is a violation of his oath of office. Instead, he “filed an application of waiver with the committee based on a law that was written in 2017,” he advised.

Strong is worried about precedent, saying, “[T]here’s a lot of hesitation in contacting the attorney general. What happens if the next time someone that somebody desires to remove the name Jefferson Street, Washington Street or they don’t like the name on a building? What do we do? Just go in here and let somebody set a fee, pay the fee, and say hey just remove whatever you want to?”

My takeaway:

This is what should be done. The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act is the law of the land and it has been upheld.

Obviously, Chairman Strong is right. The law needs to be followed, and if it is unwieldy, change the law. If you don’t, we will be seeing attempts to move historic markers, veterans memorials and the like that are followed by the presentation of a cartoonish $25,000 check.

Society cannot just ignore the laws we dislike and pay a fine and move on. The precedent is bad, and the Madison County Commission and its chairman want no part of it.

Listen:


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

1 hour ago

ICE announces arrests of two illegal aliens in Alabama, including for attempted murder

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday announced two recent Alabama arrests by its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division.

According to a release, HSI made the pair of arrests in the Yellowhammer State on July 22.

Agents of the HSI Birmingham office reportedly arrested Christian Martinez, 32, a Salvadoran national and U.S. fugitive, on two state charges of attempted murder, as well as a charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling and another for being an alien in unlawful possession of a firearm.

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HSI Birmingham worked with the United States Marshals Service on Martinez’s arrest on a fugitive warrant at a work site in Mountain Brook. ICE is also pursuing federal charges for unlawful firearm possession. Martinez was booked into the Jefferson County jail and given a $150,000 bond. This is an ongoing, HSI-led investigation, according to the release.

Additionally, HSI Huntsville arrested Iris Ferreira-Cardoso, 49, a Brazilian national, for alleged violations of federal immigration law.

Agents from HSI Huntsville and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations were part of a federal-local law enforcement collaboration that reportedly arrested Ferreira-Cardoso at a residence in Owens Cross Roads in Madison County. He will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

ICE advised that both Martinez and Ferreira-Cardoso are aliens who were in the United States illegally.

Martinez is alleged to have illegally entered the country without being inspected or paroled by an immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location.

Ferreira-Cardoso was previously removed from the United States in 2005. He is believed to have returned after that time, allegedly illegally entering without being inspected or paroled by an immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location.

“People in these communities can rest easier knowing that these two violent criminals are not roaming the streets in search of their next victims,” commented Acting HSI Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama.

“The United States should not be viewed as a safe haven for violent criminals fleeing justice in their own countries,” he concluded.

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

2 hours ago

Saban: ‘Players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home’

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban on Monday afternoon weighed in on the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

In an interview with ESPN, Saban commented on the movement that is in part led by Crimson Tide star running back Najee Harris.

The movement, less than a day old, has quickly gained steam, garnering public reactions already by President Donald Trump, other prominent elected officials across the nation and many in and around college football.

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Speaking to ESPN, Saban pushed back on the notion that student-athletes will inherently be safer if the season is not played.

“I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Saban said.

“I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety,” he outlined. “Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of the July. It’s a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can’t get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they’re in a bar or just hanging out.”

The legendary coach noted that the SEC has already pushed back the start of its season to September 26 to allow the fall semester to resume before final decisions are made on football.

“It’s going to be a challenge when the other students get on campus, and I get that,” Saban remarked. “But we really don’t know what that entails until it happens. It’s a big reason we pushed the season back, to assess that, which is the prudent way to do it.”

Bama senior All-American offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood also spoke with ESPN, strongly stating his position. He underscored that players need to have a voice as conferences and schools make decisions.

“There’s a lot of noise and bad stuff out there about playing football with the virus going on, but I haven’t really seen anything about what the players want,” Leatherwood told ESPN. “We’ve been grinding all summer, and you don’t want it to be all for nothing.

“The story that needs to be written is that we want to play,” he added. “We take risks every single day, especially in this sport, and life shouldn’t stop. If there is a chance for long-term effects if you get it and people don’t feel comfortable, then don’t play. Everybody is entitled to their right. But we want to play, and we’re going to play.”

Harris, speaking to ESPN, praised Saban’s leadership.

“Coach Saban listens to his players and wants to hear from us first,” the running back advised. “He told us that none of this is about him, but it’s about us. He wants to hear our concerns, and we made it clear that we want to play and feel like Alabama is doing everything they can to make sure we can play safely.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth backed Saban on the matter in a tweet.

“I’m with Coach Saban on this one. The player are much safer on campus and at practice than back home. For the players sake, let them play,” he commented.

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

3 hours ago

Birmingham, Huntsville rated best business climates among cities their size

Business Facilities magazine has ranked Birmingham and Huntsville as two of the most business-friendly cities in the United States.

Birmingham was ranked as the number one most business-friendly mid-sized city, and Huntsville took the number one ranking for small cities.

The same magazine ranked Alabama as the fourth-most business-friendly state in the nation, behind Texas, Virginia and Tennessee.

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Ed Castile, director of Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), told Made in Alabama why he believes Alabama received good grades in business rankings.

Castile said it is because the state has “an available workforce with an extraordinary work ethic, world-class companies that choose Alabama and hire our citizens, a business-focused Governor and Legislature who are totally engaged in our workforce strategies, and a Secretary of Commerce who helped create the Accelerate Alabama strategy that is the foundation of all our work.”

Business Facilities is a national publication that targets the industrial development and site selection industry. It has been publishing for more than 5o years.

“Alabama, home to thriving automotive and aerospace sectors, continues to expand its reach,” the publication wrote about the Yellowhammer State.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95