Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said President Donald Trump’s failure to show empathy for Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic was the biggest mistake of his 2020 reelection campaign.
“We had a difference on this. I thought we should have public empathy. I think people were scared,” Parscale told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum in a wide-ranging interview that aired on the conservative network Tuesday.
“I think if he would have been publicly empathetic, he would have won by a landslide there,” Parscale said of Trump. “I think he could have leaned into it instead of run away from it.”
Parscale suggested Trump’s loss with suburban voters reflected “the decision on COVID to go for opening the economy versus public empathy.”
“And I think a young family with a young child who were scared to take them back to school wanted to see an empathetic president and an empathetic Republican Party,” said Parscale. “And I think that, and I said this multiple times, and he chose a different path.”
Trump for months misled the public by downplaying the risk of COVID-19, while acknowledging its threat in private. He mocked people who wore masks, held crowded campaign rallies and pressured states to reopen.
Parscale was removed from his campaign manager role in July and replaced by his deputy Bill Stepien as Trump’s poll numbers plunged and he staged a disappointing rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
After his firing, Parscale returned to work on digital projects for the campaign. In September, his wife, Candice Parscale, called police to their home alleging he’d threatened to hurt himself and had hit her. She later retracted her statement. Days later, Parscale said he was “stepping away” from the campaign to “get help dealing with the overwhelming stress.”
Asked by MacCallum about the incident with his wife, Parscale responded: “Well, the good thing is my wife and I are in a much better place now. My family’s in a great place.”
Parscale said he backs Trump’s efforts to overturn the election result, but criticized the “D-level” talking heads surrounding the president. He repeatedly said he still loves the president and the Trump family, though it’s “pretty hurtful” not to have heard from him recently.