When Michael Savage met Donald Trump at the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in South Florida last month, Trump put his arm around the radio talk-show host and declared to attentive diners: “I wouldn’t be president without this man.”
Trump, a frequent guest on the nationally syndicated “The Savage Nation,” has acknowledged the influence of Savage’s trademark of “borders, language, culture” on his odds-defying campaign, and now Savage is set to release Tuesday his prescription for a successful presidency, “Trump’s War: His Battle for America.”
In an interview with WND, Savage recounted sitting down for an hour with Trump over dessert on Feb. 18, mostly reminiscing about growing up in the same New York City borough, Queens, though worlds apart from each other: Savage the son of a working-class immigrant and Trump the scion of a prominent real estate developer.
Savage said Trump, in person, was “exactly how he was on the campaign trail and as he is when he speaks.”
“He’s personable, warm, friendly and honest. We got along great,” Savage told WND.
“Trump’s War” is a detailed but accessible plan — delivered in Savage’s signature storytelling style — for restoring the nation after eight years of President Obama’s “fundamental transformation.” The book, Savage’s 31st, centers on overcoming the relentless opposition Trump has encountered since announcing his run for the presidency. Each of the first 12 chapter titles incorporates the term “war” — including Trump’s war “against the enemies within,” “against the deep state” and “for the First Amendment” — culminating with “The Battle Plan.”
When he addresses complex subjects such as Obamacare, he takes a moment to pare them down to practical principles, explaining, for example, why health care is so expensive. He imagines what might happen if the government was the “single payer” for food. (“We’d all starve.”)
Savage says he decided to write the book as a battle plan because he knew Trump’s “big and unprecedented ideas” would face so much opposition.
His chief concern is the step-by-step process of implementing the ideas, the “how-to” and how Trump will handle what he believes is the most formidable foe.
Trump’s “biggest fight will not be keeping his promises but avoiding the pitfall of almost every public servant from small-town first selectmen to commander in chief: temptation,” Savage writes.
“The temptation to be assimilated into the Washington morass is powerful. Surrounded by ‘yes’ men and women who will say anything you want to hear, possessing more power than any human being in history, you become convinced of your own — dare I say it? — your own divinity.”
Savage told WND that it’s with that recognition of human nature and the trappings of power in mind that he intends to help keep Trump accountable.
After his tête-à-tête over dessert, his belief that Trump is the man to restore America has only increased.
“I have total faith in him. I think he’s instinctually a nationalist who loves America. I don’t think it was just a campaign shtick,” he said.
“So, even if you look back at his past as a Democratic donor, a friend of Hillary — all of that, we all know that, we’re not blind to his past — he still was a nationalist. He still loved America. His fortune was built on American soil.”
America’s ‘Eddies and Ediths’
Savage writes that Trump’s “startling victory last November was another shot heard around the world” in a revolution the talk host says he saw coming even before Trump.
Savage saw it coming because of his daily interaction with the “Eddies and the Ediths,” the common men and women of America who were “quietly restless.”
“They called me on ‘The Savage Nation’ to express their concerns and discontent. Whenever then-candidate Donald Trump came on the show, I told him: listen to the people and you can’t go wrong,” Savage writes.
Vice President Mike Pence, a recent guest on the show, thanked Savage for his “leadership,” particularly on immigration.
Savage praised Trump for accomplishing “much more than he’s being given credit for” in his opening weeks in office. His concern is that the president’s advisers are moving “too fast, too far” and sometimes “in the wrong direction,” pointing, among other things, to the travel ban — cast by critics as a “Muslim ban” — and sending ground troops to the Middle East.
“I think we need to focus on America and America first, and go back to that, and not forget the campaign and forget Eddie,” Savage said. “Has Eddie benefited yet in any way? What has Eddie gotten?”
“Where are the tax cuts?” he asked. “[Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell says they’re not coming this year.”
The administration, he said, “should have pushed the tax cuts right away, instead of pushing the Muslim ban, for want of a better word. The tax cuts would have been more important to America.”
Savage said Trump “should be more concerned about national events.”
“You want to be a true nationalist? Focus on the nation’s problems, not on international problems.”
Internal civil war
Savage acknowledged that, according to reports, there’s a civil war going on behind the scenes in the administration between “moderates and nationalists.”
He wondered if it’s possible to find a “middle road.”
“We understand Trump’s management style is to let various factions in his companies argue it out,” Savage said. “But does that work in a government? That may work in a business, but does that work in a government where you need a strong leader to make decisions?”
Savage noted that while news reports currently focus on “wiretapping,” Russian meddling and Obamacare, the administration is quietly sending ground troops to Kuwait for possible deployment in Syria to fight ISIS.
“Where is this coming from? Who is driving this?” he asked. “Is it [Defense Secretary James] Mattis? Or is it [chief strategist Steve] Bannon pushing Mattis? Why are we gungho now to get into a quagmire in Syria?
“Where is the debate in Congress over this?” he asked. “Remember we used to scream about the War Powers Act every time Obama burped? Where is the outcry from conservatives about the troops there? It looks to me like the military-industrial complex is out of control again.”
He emphasized: “We want nationalism, not internationalism.”
“When nationalism is extreme, it become internationalism, which can become imperialism,” Savage warned.
Regarding his concern that the new Trump administration is moving too fast, Savage told WND that Trump supporters may have unrealistic expectations of how quickly policy can be implemented.
“We have a political system that’s cumbersome, slow; it doesn’t permit radical change. It’s gotta be done by degree,” Savage cautioned.
“As a boater,” he said, “you don’t turn a big ship quickly. It’s not a speed boat. If you turn a ship too quickly, you can capsize it.”
He pointed to “what Obama did by degree” during his two terms.
“It was a carefully plotted, non-violent revolution that he conducted over eight straight years, unrelenting, with his fanatic (attorney general) Eric Holder, with the next fanatic, Loretta Lynch, who was recommended to him by, of all people, Al Sharpton,” Savage said.
“Day by day, every day, they were conducting their revolution, tightening the screws.”
‘God is back’
Savage’s meeting with Trump Feb. 18 at Mar-a-Lago took place after the president held a campaign-style rally in Melbourne, Florida, that was led off by his wife, Melania, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, much to the consternation of some left-wing pundits.
Shortly after sitting down at the Trumps’ table, Savage spoke with Mrs. Trump, a native of the former communist Yugoslav republic of Slovenia.
“I said, ‘Mrs. Trump, I’ve got to tell you, I was moved to tears when you did that.’ And I saw her react to me. And I said, ‘I don’t know how many people understand what you were doing, but you came from an Eastern European nation where God was not permitted to be mentioned in public.’
“‘I think you were saying, God is back.’
“And she nodded. She understood that I understood.”
Savage said Trump told him Melania’s prayer was “completely unscripted.”
“Nobody knew what she was going to do. She just said she wanted to speak. And she did that,” Savage said.
Trump, he said, “just smiled. He was so proud of her.”
Melania Trump then left the table to take care of the Trumps’ son, Barron, and Savage was left alone with the president.
“He brought out a tray of desserts, ice cream and chocolate syrup, which I have not eaten since I was 8 years old. I don’t eat sweets. But when the king eats sweets, you eat sweets, right?”
Savage said they talked about “the old neighborhood, growing up on different sides of the track, so to speak, breathing the same air in Cunningham Park. And he sure got a kick out of that.”
As they prepared to leave, Savage, who has a science Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, told Trump he wanted to talk with him at some point in the future about “saving billions of dollars on fake science.”
Trump asked: “What do you mean? Global warming?”
“Let me put it to you this way,” he recalled saying to Trump. “We’ve had five ice ages before industrialization. What do you think it was that caused the ice to melt?’
Savage said Trump’s “face lit up in a huge smile. He got it.”
Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, came over to the table at the end of the dessert to greet Savage.
Recalling that he had criticized Priebus last November, dubbing him “Rinso,” Savage said he felt embarrassed and said, “Gee, I hope I haven’t offended you.”
Priebus replied, according to Savage: “Absolutely not. I love your show. You’re edgier than everyone else in radio. You’re the best. I’ve listened to you since I was young. My father loves your show. He listens to you in Wisconsin.”
Savage said he was impressed with the former Republican National Committee chairman, describing him as a “very good-natured man.”
“I liked him enormously. He was terrific.”
Savage acknowledged he has many quiet fans in unexpected places.
“There’s a prominent Democrat in San Francisco, a lawyer who knows Hillary, who says, ‘We all listen to your show. We love you,’” Savage said.
“But they can’t admit it in public,” he told WND.
“I think that’s the hope for America,” he continued, “that behind the scenes, many Democrats are very patriotic.
“I think they’ll come to understand that ‘America first’ is not fascism,” he said. “It’s nationalism.”
Savage concluded: “America is great. It has given me a lot.
“I had to struggle my whole life. My grandfather came here from Russia and kissed the ground. He never got to reap the rewards of his struggles. He died at 49 from a heart attack. My father died in his 50s from a heart attack.
“I’m the manchild in the promised land,” he said.
“It’s been very hard for me. I didn’t inherit any money,” Savage observed.
“But I did inherit something greater than money, which is a work ethic and a love for the country, which I carry with me.”