From the Gutter to the White House - Political Consultant Hank Sheinkopf talks Corona Virus & Presidential Race
We met at Grand Central Station which is not just a train transportation in the heart of New York City, but Grand Central Station is a world-famous landmark. We had to meet there because of the Corona Virus. Much of the Big Apple (like most of America and the world) is still very much affected, in uncharted territory.
Hank Sheinkopf is not just your average Political Consultant. He is very good at what he does. He helped put Bill Clinton into the White House. The Corona Virus has changed American Politics in a big way.
“Coronavirus, has changed the game of politics because for the first time in a long time, the United States government has failed, failed significantly. And those failures are so evident because people are dying.” -Hank Sheinkopf
We all see that some public officials across the country have stepped up in a big way. Is it enough? Absolutely not, unless you live in that region. Standing there in Grand Central Station, Sheinkopf told me: “the failure of government, the federal government to function overall…. that slacks been taken up by local officials like Andrew Cuomo, (Governor of NY) and others… and those there are those that have failed like, the Mayor of the City of New York is a complete and utter failure.” (Bill de blasio) Sheinkopf says the truth of the matter is… the Corona Virus has exposed many politicians for what they are. He says they are like pinup dolls.
“The inner capacity to manage a crisis tells us that what we’re doing really, is electing people who are almost pinup dolls! They don’t do the work. They’re not there to manage a crisis, but they’re there to get elected because they run campaigns done by people like me, that somehow convince other people they should vote for them, when in fact, they’re not competent to do the work.” -Hank Sheinkopf
Sheinkopf says part of the successful job for politicians is convincing people that things are going to be okay.
“-It was Roosevelt in the fireside chats during the Second World War in the depression.
-It was Harry Truman, standing up….. and saying we’re going to get you Health Care.
-It was Dwight Eisenhower saying we’re going to get people educated, we’re going to build highways, we’re going to get the country moving again.
-It was John Kennedy saying, look, we’re going to get to the moon.
-Lyndon Johnson saying we can Rebuild this Society.
-Ronald Reagan, whether you agreed with him or not saying we’re going to make this country work again, and America will be great.
-Bill Clinton too…. you know, I mean, I worked for Bill Clinton and I can tell you that at least he read everything available. And he really cared about this country deeply and that the future and its children.
-George Bush you don’t have to like him either. George Bush 1 was a great patriot, and a great man. Two was taken over by the by, not the Neo cons so much as the profiteers who enjoy war. “
The point from Sheinkopf, it’s that type of leadership in short supply. Then he turned to the current occupant in the White House. President Trump. He even worked for Trump at one time in 1999, and pointed out businessman Trump paid him every dollar he was owed.
“That being said, this guy is…. the guy in the white house right now is extraordinary. I mean, I in the interest of disclosure, like most of the world in New York City, I was…. Donald Trump had me do a job in 1999. I got paid, I’m happy to say every dollar. Everybody in the region has worked for Donald Trump at some point or another. So one guy running for mayor said I can’t hire you. As you worked for Donald Trump. I said when I was 22 years ago! By the way, I’d be more concerned I said to him, about who you did business with than who Hank Sheinkopf did business with. Because who Hank shank did business with… it’s not going to be on a television screen, but you are.”-Hank Sheinkopf.
“The pandemic is not an international pandemic anymore. The tragedy is that the greatest country in the history of the world, allowing the most freedoms for the most amount of people and besides the fact that it still can’t figure out its racial problems which are not insignificant because they’re now gone from race to income gap, which is hard to resolve under any circumstances. And I’m deeply concerned about I’m not surprised about about urban disturbances. I predicted my students a year and a half ago. You cannot have…. now we have three societies or four. We have black. We have white people now we’re doing the things that black people did, sadly, during the crack epidemic 20 years ago, they’re now killing themselves with opioids. Because there is no hope and no future. We have a white middle income people being taxed… not so much taxed. But society is putting the pressure on them. The care kids have student loans because they were told they have to go to college, and the parents are gonna wind up paying for it. So it’s just the whole thing’s a mess. You can’t have this many fissures going on in the society and hope that it remains in place. Donald Trump has done nothing to heal those fissures. He’s done nothing to keep Americans alive. And he’s told people extraordinary things. People should be reading Tim Snyder’s new work on fascism. And Appelbaum new book on on fascist behavior. And what is happening in this country is dangerous under all circumstances.” -Hank Sheinkopf
But let’s stop here for a moment. Hank Sheinkopf is a top political consultant, but he also has a personal story as it relates to his life. Like myself, and so many Americans, he had a rough upbringing. Foster Care, and group homes are part of his life. I said to him:
“I’m African American, you’re white!!! But we share this bond in terms of a rough upbringing. You were not born Hank Sheinkopf on third base and claimed that you hit a home run. Tell us about your background?”-Political Journalist and Commentator Dominic Carter
Sheinkopf didn’t mess a beat in terms of his response. He admitted he doesn’t like to talk about it, but there is an exception.
“I The only reason I’ve talked about it over the years is to frankly, try to be an inspiration to people… Black, White, Latino, or anybody else, that anything is possible. I mean, my mother was 15. My father was 19. I was abandoned at seven. I lived in all kinds of places. And ultimately, you know, I was out of the house. I used to fight my way… in the house…. down the street…. in the house with my stepfather. I lived with my mother for a couple of years with him. And I… you know, I had deviated septum to this day for three reasons. One, because I couldn’t keep my hands to myself as a kid. Two, because my stepfather and I used to go through it, and three because I still couldn’t keep my hands to myself until I calmed down.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“So you were in a group home at one point?” I counted.
“Yes… but you know what, I dropped out of high school and a family took me in and I was lucky. You know, I got a shot! If it wasn’t for free University in New York City I would have never gone to college. It was out of the question. And I would guess that if it hadn’t been for a couple other things, you know, I would have been a Master Criminal probably done my third bit…on the rock, Rikers Island or in upstate New York with with my Black friends.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“The labor movement allowed me to have a decent job, so I can make a buck and put food on the table and pay the rent. I walked into this game. It was an accident, in the South Bronx, and I somehow took to it. I got lucky. I don’t know that young people could have those same opportunities that I had. And I am grateful to New York City. And that is why….. and I look….. a guy like me, I got to see America and the world in this business. I worked all over the world. I worked all over the United States. But I stayed in New York because I felt an obligation. This city gave me every opportunity and what I’m seeing is a place where that is changing so dramatically. And I worry about the future…. and I worry about what young black people are seeing and what young white people are seeing and why this is going to get worse.” -Hank Sheinkopf
I have enormous respect for Sheinkopf. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but like me, and countless others, he made it. How could one NOT respect him. So of course it’s time to turn to the Presidential Race.
“I think today Donald Trump wins. This is August of 2020. I predicted…. I’m one of the idiots who predicted in May of 2016, that Donald Trump would be the president. I said in January, he would be the Republican nominee. People laughed me out of the room. Why? Because the people in the streets don’t want Joe Biden elected. It’s that simple!!! They want a revolution because AOC and the left wing, the Democratic Party really doesn’t want Joe Biden elected. They’re creating a social movement! She refers to this as a movement, not as a party activity. Issue is, and anybody who studies social movements knows that until you have a law passed, resolving the social movement needs, it doesn’t go out of business. They don’t want to go out of business. The attacks on the democratic party with insider significant…. Medicare for all sounds great, but why don’t you just finish destroying the unions who then won’t be able to negotiate anything. Unless we have unionization and we do things in a serious way to talk about close the income gap….We’re not going to close the race gap. We’re not going to close anything. And I don’t think the democrats are prepared for that real discussion. They’re getting their money from the same place as everybody else is. They’re just lying about it.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“The polls show Joe Biden way ahead. You don’t buy it Hank Sheinkopf?”-Dominic Carter
“Listen I was just talking to my friend, President Hillary Clinton, who was, you know, having dinner with her friend, President Romney, and they were with Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was on his way to be vice president. Listen, until the chickens are in the coop, don’t figure out how you’re going to slaughter them for dinner.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“It’s not easy to win a presidential campaign. I’ve been in them It’s not easy!!! Do I think Trump wins today? Yes. Could this change? You’ll know on Labor Day, depending upon the kind of campaign that Biden runs and by the way, the social media work that Biden’s people are doing is spectacular. It depends what platforms you’re on, you’ll will see their work! It is smart. It stresses leadership and stresses the humanity of that former senator from Delaware.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“Is the biggest worry for Joe Biden, perhaps a self inflicted wound?”-Dominic Carter
“The fact that Joe Biden tends to make gaffes is not the issue when you’re up against somebody whose hair is orange, and who somehow believes we should all be drinking…. Who knows what…. Some Lysol or something else, to clean our bodies out? That’s not the question. The question is how are those verbal errors made into indices of not being a leader. This is not about anything but leadership. And then future of America is very much at stake. It’s about leadership both overseas against our enemies. The Russians and the Chinese are not our friends. America is in a race with with Russia to remain relevant and a race with China to become…. to stay a power. This incumbent has allowed our position throughout the world to decline.”-Hank Sheinkopf
And then there are the Investigations. That was our next topic of discussion.
“Investigating the Trump Organization. And now… apparently Manhattan DA Cy Vance is looking at insurance and bank fraud, and patterns of financial misconduct. Is this a tremendous red flag for the president? And what about the Southern District, the federal prosecutors of the Southern District? Do you think that they will ultimately, perhaps come after Trump if he loses the election?”-Dominic Carter
“I have tremendous regard for the FBI. And I’ll tell you why. This FBI is a new FBI. This is not J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. This is an FBI that was born out of 911 with terrific street agents, and people who really care about this country. And they’ve been abused by this President significantly, and been undercut and made to look like a bunch of Rogue cops, which is atrocious. If you don’t think those people are doing their work. Why? Because they in the professional prosecutors in the Justice Department want their honor restored, and they want restoration of the honor of law in this country. So be sure that they’re working. They’re not going to tell you what they’re doing. As far as the Manhattan DA is concerned, in the tradition of Bob Morgenthau, who had…. who was my friend, who had tremendous courage and who I miss often, I spent time talking with over the years, a lot. In his memory, Cy Vance, who is.. what is probably his way out the door… is doing an extraordinary thing for this major nation.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“By looking into looking into this President?”-Dominic Carter
“My betting is….. his Trick Card, which no one’s seen…. is Michael Cohen.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“And Michael Cohen is going to get even and how is he going to do that by telling the truth.” -Hank Sheinkopf
“One way or the other. He was gonna tell the truth. He will sell that book by telling the truth and Cy Vance will be listening to every word.” -Hank Sheinkopf
“And a judge recently sided with Michael Cohen in terms of letting him back out of prison. In terms of the book. Apparently the Justice Department wanted to gag him.”-Dominic Carter
“Well, I’m glad you said that Dominic. The idea of the Justice Department gagging free speech should be a warning to everybody to pay attention. That these signs of the destruction of freedom and the capacity to live as Americans…. whether we like the racial conditions or not….and anybody with a brain doesn’t!!! Whether we think that the income gap is real or not…we should!!!! But the fact that our freedom to express ourselves as under attack should be a warning sign to everyone who cares about Democracy.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“Now, let me ask you this question. Back to the presidential race, Joe Lockhart… President Clinton’s former press secretary, wrote an op ed urging Biden not to debate President Trump. I don’t know if he could do that with the federal election rules and matching funds and so on. But is that something that that you would subscribe to?”-Dominic Carter
“I don’t know what the numbers look like in the polling data, because I’m not involved in the campaign. It’s a reasonable theory to have…. Joe Lockhart is a real pro. That’s a reasonable presumption to make, but again, because he thinks…and there’s some value to this…. that Donald Trump will turn this into his own television program, but you know what? The Donald Trump Corona virus briefings were canceled by the public and by staff because he made a fool of himself. And he didn’t look very well at all and it wasn’t a good time. Question here is for Joe Biden, if he’s going to do those debates, and Trump starts pounding him…. not to respond to Trump, but to respond to the American people. The American People want something to happen, the regionalization of our politics, which is a gift from Newt Gingrich, going back to the 90s, and it’s continued unabated…. can only be fixed, ff we have new leadership in the White House. We’re not going to get people back in… to doing Kumbaya between, you know, the South and the Midwest and New York and California. Well, Biden has gotta show that leadership and he’s got to figure out how to get around Trump on that debate stage.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“Black Lives Matter.”-Dominic Carter
“The protests taking place throughout America, In fact, throughout the world, your take on all of this?
“I think protest movements are very, very important. They also let the steam out of a political system at a time of crisis. The more you have these kinds of things, the more you know, the system’s in trouble. That’s why Biden needs to be elected by people, whether they’re republicans or democrats…..that they want to save this political system. One of the great political scientists of the 20th century was a fellow named V.O Key, who created a theory and really was his and others….was called critical elections. What critical elections do!!! There not Critical, what they do is they take the steam out of the political system and allowing people then to focus on the nature of governance. We need that now badly.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“I’m going to close this way. If Trump loses the election, does he leave office quietly?”-Dominic Carter
“Donald Trump is not leaving office quietly. The good news for us in this extraordinary nation, and we’ve seen it occur before, and I was in Washington, when the night of the Saturday night massacre and when Nixon fired what four distinguished and important public officials. I think it was four, and What amazed me.Though there was silence in the streets of Washington I was working there…..was that there were no tanks in the streets. The greatness of this nation is that our military knows its place, despite what the President wants to do. But he’s not leaving. The only question is how he gets out of there.” — Hank Sheinkopf
“And so you believe he may not go quietly?”-Dominic Carter
“He’s not going to leave. Why? Because he believes this is his due and he will try to destroy everyone in the process.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“Will Republicans keep the Senate.”-Dominic Carter
“I don’t think the Republicans keep the senate. I think the problems they face are pretty clear. Colorado in deep trouble. There is a couple…. I think Maine is in deep trouble and it ain’t that much. So people ought to get ready to say, okay, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, you’re the guy and that may very well be the case. But that happens. Don’t be surprised if Donald Trump is reelected.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“And so we may see Charles Schumer, someone we both know very well, as the majority?”-Dominic Carter
“It’s a long way from Brooklyn from Sheepshead Bay where I first met him campaigning….to the Majority Leader’s office in the US Senate, but you have to give the guy credit because he’s gotten there. He will get there.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“Brother Hank Sheinkopf, I close this way. We mentioned Trump. We mentioned Biden….. Why did Hillary Clinton lose the election?” -Dominic Carter
“Hillary Clinton lost the election because she was badly advised….in my estimation, and she was a much better retail campaigner than a wholesale campaigner. Not great at rallies, but in personal contact, terrific. They did not allow her to show how smart she was, and she was angry that she had to show how smart she was. That combination, plus bad advice…. resulted in a loss that shouldn’t have happen.”-Hank Sheinkopf
“We’ve got to get this country back. Look, guys like you and I, there are plenty of them out there. We cannot walk away from them and tell them they have no hope. If we had no hope, I wouldn’t be here with you today. You know, I would be doing something else and it wouldn’t be good. Neither would you?”-Hank Sheinkopf
“We’ve got to give these people hope. So that a 16 year old….15 year old….That the son of a 19 year old father and a 15 year old mother abandoned at the age of six, seven could lead the life I’ve lived…. from the Gutter to the White House. We want to give other people that opportunity!!!”-Hank Sheinkopf
You can reach Dominic Carter here or at Twitter: @Dominictvradio