Politics

Fmr. Obama Adviser: ‘Lifting up Trump as the Identity of the Republican Party Was Super Helpful to Us’

White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe and Communications Director Daniel Pfeiffer listen to President Barack Obama during a news conference / Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager and senior adviser David Plouffe said they had a strategy to lift then-New York businessman Donald Trump to become the "identity" of the Republican party and that it was "super helpful" to them.

The revelation came in a new book, Obama: An Oral History by Brian Abrams. Abrams gave an inside look at the Obama presidency after conducting over 100 exclusive interviews with prominent individuals in the Obama administration, including cabinet secretaries, legal advisers, speechwriters, and campaign strategists.

Plouffe, one of the individuals Abrams interviews, revealed the Obama campaign strategized to promote Trump and make him the face of the Republican party.

Abrams writes that Plouffe said, "There was strategy. Lifting up Trump as the identity of the Republican Party was super helpful to us. The president went out in the briefing room to present his long-form birth certificate, [but] really to continue the dance with Trump. Our view was lifting Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner, you know, as kind of the example of the Obama opposition. There was a strategy behind the material and the amount of time we spent on Trump. Let's really lean into Trump here. That'll be good for us."

Trump often criticized Obama's decisions as president and was one of the biggest promoters of the birther conspiracy. Trump first began to draw doubt as to whether Obama was born in the United States in 2011, publicly calling on the president to release his birth certificate. The allegations that Obama was not a natural-born citizen drew charges of racist dog-whistling against Trump.

Obama eventually released his birth certificate and mocked Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. Comedian Seth Meyers also mocked Trump at the dinner about a future presidential campaign.

Plouffe's strategy to elevate Trump was similar to that of Hillary Clinton's campaign in the lead-up to 2016. Politico published an article a day before the 2016 election on how the Clinton campaign was eager to face off against Trump because it believed he would be easy to beat in the general election.

So to take [Jeb] Bush down, Clinton’s team drew up a plan to pump Trump up. Shortly after her kickoff, top aides organized a strategy call, whose agenda included a memo to the Democratic National Committee: "This memo is intended to outline the strategy and goals a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would have regarding the 2016 Republican presidential field," it read.

"The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party," read the memo.

"Pied Piper candidates include, but aren’t limited to:
• Ted Cruz
• Donald Trump
• Ben Carson
We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously."

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Obama insisted Trump wouldn't be president.