NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Political consultant Mary Matalin praised President Trump as “a great overall president,” calling his job performance “stunning” and adding that she can “die happy now.”
In 2016, Matalin left the Republican Party and registered as a Libertarian but the pundit told PJM she “can’t leave the party because it’s Hotel California.”
“I always thought, as Reagan did, that libertarianism was central to conservatism. I have the same philosophy and I support the same policies. I just thought, at the time, it had nothing to do with Trump, whom I think is doing a great job. It’s just that I didn’t see those principles and policies being reflected in the majorities that we kept electing,” Matalin told PJM in an exclusive interview at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference.
“So I don’t know why it made any difference to anybody, but I want to re-express to myself, to my kids and my community, to remind them of what Reagan said about the balance between liberty, that tension and that part of preserving our freedom has to do with conservative policies. I think libertarianism precedes conservatism or it’s certainly iatrical to it. So I didn’t think it was that big of a deal; I didn’t leave the party and I can’t leave the party because it’s Hotel California,” she added, referring to the Eagles song in which you can check out but never leave.
Matalin, a veteran Republican strategist, said she’s specifically pleased with Trump’s “fabulous” leadership on tax reform and his can-do attitude toward public policy.
“I think he’s stunning; he’s a paradigmatic shift because, for him, I think, it’s an isolated paradigm shift. I don’t think anybody else can do it because everybody else who thinks they know about politics impedes their own forward motion by saying it can’t be done. He doesn’t have that gene –everything can be done,” she said.
“Everything is possible, and guess what? He has proved that it is. Do you know how many years, decades, I worked on tax reform? He did it like that, changing people’s lives. Do you know how long we all ran against Obamacare? …The less reported is the most significant for the economy … regulatory relief,” she added.
Matalin said Trump’s regulatory relief agenda has given hope back to the business community, young families and those preparing for retirement.
“I say this from the perspective of being in a blue city in a red state for 10 years – New Orleans and Louisiana. He’s given people back hope, I mean people really, small-business people or young families or retiring people, in our DNA is always the potential to be better, to strive for something,” she said.
“You couldn’t strive for anything. You’re being bushwhacked at every corner. He has shifted the collective psyche from horribly cynical to helpfully skeptical. So I think he is doing great,” she added.
No Democrats voted for the tax reform package Trump signed into law last December. No Republicans voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010. PJM asked Matalin if she thought the tax reform legislative process was too similar to the way Democrats handled Obamacare.
“There was no support for taking over one-sixth of the economy, there wasn’t when he pushed it through, there wasn’t in that first midterm, there hadn’t been for all of the years that he was in office,” she replied. “Not only did the support never grow for it like it has with tax reform, the opposition to it intensified.”
“People out there, first of all, they dismiss all the – they don’t hate rich people, but this was not a person tax, it was an economic incentive tax and it’s working. I think it was spectacular. And I like the way he does things without – to people out there he makes it look kind of a pain in the neck, but not that hard, OK,” she added.
Matalin doubted that repealing and replace Obamacare would be a possibility in the near future.
“He does make it look effortless and he gets up every morning and he does it and he keeps on fighting. That’s hard – it’s a hard job,” she said. “I think that [Obamacare] ship has sailed, and I think he’s so – he thinks outside the box, acts outside the box.”
She thinks Trump should tackle other issues such as education reform.
“We have to do real education reform. We’ve had 50 years of dismantling the humanities and education; that’s a little harder but he could, in the same way he did with EPA and such, he could give some of the power back and cut some of the strings,” she said.
“The other is unfunded mandate reform. We just have to do it and he could – I love the way he operates where he explains it to people the way they think about it, in a common-sense way, and I think he has the ability to bring in young voters,” she added.
Matalin also said Trump has two key qualities she has never seen in one president before.
“I think he is good at two things that I’ve never seen anybody be mutually good at in that office. One, he is a great inbox president, like you never know what’s going to come across your desk, and he has not lost on one of those things. So, he knows how to jujitsu if it’s perceived to be lost in our measurement,” Matalin told PJM.
“And he’s a great overall president, like, he did what he said he was going to do and he is doing things he never imagined he would have to, so that’s really hard to do with a staff that was not quite seasoned – it’s just sheer force of will and force of personality. I think he’s doing great. He’s doing really great. I can die happy now. I was really worried about it,” she added.
PJM asked Matalin if she thought Trump would receive any blowback from conservatives for increasing federal spending.
“Deficit spending is not our problem. The substantive and ongoing unfunded structural debt is our problem. Our culture was founded on deficits,” she said. “Businesses are founded on deficits and people’s families are founded on deficits, OK? But structural debt is like kids graduating with $100,000 in debt, that’s like the individual equivalent, as opposed to deficit spending when you’re starting out in life, OK? We cannot survive with the structural debt.”