Mercedes Schlapp, assistant to the president and senior adviser for strategic communications at the White House, spoke exclusively to The Daily Signal’s Ginny Montalbano on Friday during the Young Women’s Leadership Summit organized by Turning Point USA in Dallas.
Schlapp described the Trump administration’s successes, what the president expects from his team, and how the media covers powerful women in the administration. The transcript of the on-camera interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
Ginny Montalbano: Thank you for being with us. It’s been 500 days with the Trump administration. To you, what are the biggest successes so far?
Mercedes Schlapp: Well, 520 days, but who’s counting? Really, the president has been one of the most consequential presidents that we’ve seen in our lifetime. You just look at his economic success story.
We’re expecting almost 4 percent growth coming up as well. I mean that is significant. You’re talking over 3 million jobs that have been created. The mere fact that you’re seeing wages increase, investments coming back to American communities, it is truly a success story.
That comes because not only did we have a successful tax cut and tax reform law that’s been implemented and put into place, but also it’s because of the deregulation. The fact that you’re being able to get rid of so many regulations in the government, which were really a stranglehold for so many small businesses and corporations trying to create jobs.
Just even repealing the individual [health insurance] mandate, President Obama’s individual mandate, is a big help for small businesses to be able to hire more people.
Montalbano: There truly have been some incredible successes that you guys have had. What is next on the horizon?
Schlapp: Well, in addition to the economic success story, we also have a foreign policy success story. It is because of the president that we have restored leadership, American leadership, on the world stage. It is because of the president that we have a new era of diplomacy.
What we saw happen in Singapore this past week with the historic summit, that is something that for decades presidents have been unable to solve. They’ve been unable to figure out how to deal with [North Korean dictator] Kim Jong Un.
President Trump said, “Look.” When he came into office, he conducted a comprehensive review to look at the North Korean policy. Following that, they put on a maximum pressure campaign, basically forcing Chairman Kim to come to the table.
Speaking to the president about this, he’s made it very clear it is really about ensuring that we can reduce the threat of nuclear war. It is about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. If and when we are able to successfully move in that direction, which we know the president just did in this important summit, then we know we’ll have not only a safer region, but a safer world because of what the president has done.
Montalbano: What has it been like for you working in the Trump administration, especially as a woman? What is he like behind the scenes?
Schlapp: Well, first of all, President Trump. I absolutely love working for President Trump. This is my second tour in the White House. I worked for President George W. Bush back in the day as a young woman, an even younger woman I should say, and worked also in the media affairs department.
Now, with President Trump, being able to see him work firsthand, he’s a driver. He’s results-oriented. He wants the team to take it to the next level. He doesn’t want you to think just inside the box. He wants you to think creatively. He wants to solve problems. He’s passionate about it. He is passionate about helping the American men and women, the forgotten men and women.
He’s like, “What are we doing to help our farmers? What are we doing to help our young people?” It is something that he focuses on every day, expects his policy people to do the same. And he wants his communicators also to go out there and talk about his message and talk about the successes that he’s having, which as we know, is being so scrutinized and so misrepresented in mainstream media.
Quite frankly, we’re going to keep telling our story. It’s going to get straight to the American people.
Montalbano: The media coverage has not always been favorable. President Trump talks a lot about fake news. What do you make of the coverage of the first lady, of Ivanka Trump, of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, of yourself, when it can be so brutal and fake and aggressive?
Schlapp: The one thing President Trump teaches you to do is fight and never give up. I think that’s a great message, even for young people. It’s when you have things that you stand for, your values, your beliefs, when you know your policies are right, your facts are right, what do you do?
You don’t sit back. You fight. You tell your story. You stand up. Yes, the fake news is going to try to tear you down, and personally try to tear you down. Even, to a certain degree, just completely try to make you focus on these attacks on people that I care about personally: Sarah Sanders, Ivanka, the first lady.
We’re not going to stay quiet. We’re going to keep talking about the president’s successes. We’re going to keep talking about his policies that are truly making an impact in America. That’s why the key is never to give up.
That’s the one thing about President Trump. He’s been in the White House for over 500 days. What we’re seeing is unprecedented. It’s historic, and it’s just the beginning.
Montalbano: On that note, how do we hold the media accountable?
Schlapp: The Daily Signal is a perfect example of where Americans can get their news. Americans have options nowadays. It’s not just three networks, as it was back in the day. We have so many different platforms that the Americans can get their news.
Obviously, President Trump has been a masterful communicator. He has used Twitter in a way that—now we call it a way to get his message out almost like a press release. Every single day Americans know what the president thinks. He wants to be direct and transparent. He’s going to bypass the media to do that.
While the media focuses on the silly palace intrigue stories, or things that don’t matter, they are so out of touch where Americans are. What Americans want to be talking about is, “How much money am I going to have in my pocket? How am I going to make sure my kids get the right education that they need? How are we going to lower the drug prices? What are we going to do to get people back to work?”
They care about their communities. They want to practice their faith freely with no one telling them, “You can’t say this or do this.” That’s what President Trump is fighting for, and it’s why he’s winning.
Montalbano: Right now, we are at a young women’s summit, and my last question for you is: What advice would you give to young conservatives, but specifically young women, who want to pursue a career in politics or media?
Schlapp: Well, as you know, Matt and I have five daughters. I brought my oldest daughter, Viana, who is like, “We are going to the Turning Point conference this week.” It’s really such an honor to be here and be able to meet so many fabulous young conservative women.
The advice I give, and I give this advice to my daughter, is: “Speak up and have them listen to you. Don’t back down. Lean in. Make sure your voice at the table is heard.” Because what liberals want to do every single day is they want to shame conservatives. They want conservatives to say that their viewpoint doesn’t matter.
Guess what? Those women, they will never represent us. We can be louder and stronger because we are winning on the facts. And we need to ensure that we save American culture and we continue to push forward that America is the greatest country in the world.
Montalbano: Some wonderful advice from Mercedes Schlapp. Thank you so much for being with us.
Schlapp: Thank you for having me.
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