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.
So I guess you probably stayed up all night on Election Night. My wife swears she saw you on TV standing beside Senator Sessions.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Hey Cliff, I’m not asking you but a caller just called in and asked what position you were taking with the Trump administration?
I look forward to being back in Alabama.