Trump confidant says administration has 'got to slow down,' stop media war

ByRiley Beggin
February 22, 2017, 7:19 PM

— -- A friend and confidant of President Donald Trump’s says he believes that the administration has “been doing too much” and that “they’ve got to slow down” and tone down its confrontational approach to the media.

Chris Ruddy, the CEO of conservative outlet Newsmax Media, has been a friend of Trump’s for nearly 20 years, much of that time as a member of the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Ruddy told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein on the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast that the administration has had “messaging problems” in its first month in office but that calling those issues chaos “overstates it.”

Ruddy said that all the Cabinet members are “A or A+ people” but that Trump’s inexperience as a politician means he’s on a “learning curve.”

“He is used to being very reactive, shooting from the hip and just telling people what he thinks,” Ruddy said. “I think there’s a view within the inside that they’ve been doing too much, that they’re stepping all over themselves.”

Ruddy said he believes that Trump is still in “campaign mode” and that more people with the president’s ear will begin pushing back on his use of Twitter.

Ruddy also thinks that Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, will likely be key to maintaining an “even-keeled pace” in the White House and that “[Secretary of Defense James Mattis] is the most influential person in the government right now.”

As for Trump’s ongoing battle with the press, Ruddy said that he does not believe it is a reflection of the president’s ability to handle criticism and that the press is “baiting” the president. However, he thinks the White House’s continued complaints about what it perceives as media antagonism are a bad idea.

“I think it’s a mistake on the administration’s part to be so confrontational with the media,” Ruddy said. “They know he’s very reactive and he gets angry, so they are just enjoying this rising of the tension.”

He said he think it’s in Trump’s best interests to return to policies that will garner bipartisan public support, such as banning lobbyists in government.

“I personally have encouraged him to be more consensus- and populist-driven,” Ruddy said. “Everybody agrees people that work for the government — it shouldn’t be a revolving door … and nobody knows about it because they did the Muslim ban rollout.”

His biggest piece of advice for Trump: Use his speech at the joint session of Congress on Feb. 28 to reach across the aisle and work to get major legislation passed.

“Trump has all these things he wants to do,” Ruddy said. “It seems to me he had an opportunity to really reach out to the Democrats and create a consensus-driven administration, and they are losing that as each day goes by.”

As for Mar-a-Lago’s serving as the winter White House, Ruddy said he doesn’t think that’s a conflict of interest, adding that “it’s a myth” that membership at the club means automatic access to Trump.

“There’s a virtual security area around him when he’s sitting at his table. You can’t just walk up to him,” Ruddy said. “Where in the past he used to talk business, I don’t ever see him talking about business at all.”

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