by WorldTribune Staff, November 22, 2016
Real estate moguls with no political experience are having a really big year.
As Donald Trump continues his transition to the White House, the spotlight is also shining on Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and key player in the victorious campaign of 2016.
Three blocks south of Trump Tower, Kushner runs his family’s real estate business. The 35-year-old, who had shown no previous desire to enter the political arena, is being credited with helping guide the Trump campaign to victory – and doing it with significantly fewer resources than the opposition.
“It’s hard to overstate and hard to summarize Jared’s role in the campaign,” billionaire Peter Thiel, the only significant Silicon Valley figure to publicly back Trump, told Forbes. “If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer.”
“Jared Kushner is the biggest surprise of the 2016 election,” added Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who helped design the Clinton campaign’s technology system. “Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources.”
Observers say it was Kushner who stepped in to turn the Trump revolution into an actual campaign operation. He put together a speech and policy team, handled Trump’s schedule and managed the finances.
“Donald kept saying, ‘I don’t want people getting rich off the campaign, and I want to make sure we are watching every dollar just like we would do in business,’ ” Kushner told Forbes.
According to Forbes: “The decision that won Trump the presidency started on the return trip from that Springfield rally last November aboard his private 757, dubbed Trump Force One. Chatting over McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, Trump and Kushner talked about how the campaign was under-utilizing social media. The candidate, in turn, asked his son-in-law to take over his Facebook initiatives.”
“I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley, some of the best digital marketers in the world, and asked how you scale this stuff,” Kushner said. “They gave me their subcontractors.
“I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting.”
In one instance, Kushner spent $160,000 to promote a series of low-tech policy videos of Trump talking straight into the camera that wound up generating more than 74 million views.
Kushner told Forbes he structured the Trump operation with a focus on maximizing the return for every dollar spent. “We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote,” Kushner says. “I asked, How can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?”
FEC filings through mid-October indicate the Trump campaign spent roughly half as much as the Clinton campaign.
And, while Clinton relied heavily on traditional methods, Twitter and Facebook fueled the Trump campaign.
“We weren’t afraid to make changes. We weren’t afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn’t working, we would kill it quickly,” Kushner says. “It meant making quick decisions, fixing things that were broken and scaling things that worked.”
Google’s Schmidt said that “Jared understood the online world in a way the traditional media folks didn’t. He managed to assemble a presidential campaign on a shoestring using new technology and won. That’s a big deal. Remember all those articles about how they had no money, no people, organizational structure? Well, they won, and Jared ran it.”
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who has known Trump for decades and is advising the president-elect on foreign policy issues, said: “Every president I’ve ever known has one or two people he intuitively and structurally trusts. I think Jared might be that person.”