By Jeffrey Toobin
Bad Old Days
Roger Stone, the political provocateur, visited the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel on primary
day last week to reminisce about his long friendship with Donald Trump
It started in 1979, when Stone was a twenty-six-year-old aide in Ronald Reagan’s Presidential campaign. Michael Deaver, a more senior campaign official, instructed Stone to start fund-raising in New York. “Mike gave me a recipe box full of index cards, supposedly Reagan’s contacts in New York,” Stone said. “Half the people on the cards were dead. A lot of the others were show-business people, but there was one name I recognized—Roy Cohn.” So Stone presented himself at the brownstone office of Cohn, the notorious lawyer and fixer.
“I go into Roy’s office,” Stone continued, “and he’s sitting there in his silk bathrobe, and he’s finishing up a meeting with Fat Tony Salerno,” the boss of the Genovese crime family. Stone went on, “So Tony says, ‘Roy here says we’re going with Ree-gun this time.’ That’s how he said it—‘Ree-gun.’ Roy told him yes, we’re with Reagan. Then I said to Roy that we needed to put together a finance committee, and Roy said, ‘You need Donald and Fred Trump.’ He said Fred, Donald’s father, had been big for Goldwater in ’64. I went to see Donald, and he helped to get us office space for the Reagan campaign, and that’s when we became friends.”
Stone is now sixty-two, and he’s allowed his hair, which used to be a kind of yellow, to evolve into a shade more suitable for an éminence grise than for an enfant terrible. He has played roles in many of his generation’s political dirty-tricks scandals. He was just nineteen when he had a bit part in Watergate; he sent campaign contributions in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance to the campaign of Pete McCloskey, who was running against Richard Nixon for the Republican nomination in 1972. Almost three decades later, he helped choreograph the so-called Brooks Brothers riot, which shut down the Bush v. Gore recount in Miami-Dade County.
Over the years, too, Stone shepherded Trump’s political ambitions through several near-runs for the Presidency. “In 1988, I arranged for him to speak to the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Chamber of Commerce—that was his first political trip,” Stone said. “There was lots of speculative publicity. He liked the attention. He liked the buzz. He’s the greatest promoter of all time.” In 2000, Trump came closer to a real bid. Because Ross Perot had run in the previous two elections as the candidate of the Reform Party, there was a chance that Trump could have received federal funding on that party line. “He was looking at the prospect of running on O.P.M.—other people’s money,” Stone said. “He loved that.” But Trump backed away.
Now that Trump is actually running for President, Stone has been largely sidelined. (He currently has no official campaign role.) Stone says that he speaks to the candidate “now and then.” In any event, he said, Trump has little use for political advisers. “He listens to no one,” Stone noted. “On his own, he conceptualized a campaign model that rejects all the things you do in politics—no polling, no opposition research, no issue shop, no analytics, no targeting, no paid advertising to speak of.” He went on, “He had this vision of an all-communication-based strategy of rallies, debates, and as many interviews as he can smash into a day. The campaign exists to support the logistics of the tour.” Stone does maintain a small super PAC that he said will help corral delegates for Trump. “How many of the delegates will want to play golf at a Trump resort?” Stone said. “How many will want to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago? How many will want to go to a cocktail party at his apartment in Trump Tower, with its extraordinary view of Manhattan?” (Trump said he has no plans to court delegates in this way.)
There’s a wistfulness about Stone these days. He judges politics on aesthetic grounds as much as on issues. “On ‘The Apprentice,’ Trump was always perfectly dressed, perfectly lit, perfectly made up,” he said. “That helped him enormously in establishing a Presidential brand.” The same goes for Stone himself, who was wearing a double-breasted nailhead suit made for him by a Mr. Cheo. “He trained on Savile Row with Anderson & Sheppard, who are the best suitmakers in the world,” Stone said. He handles fewer campaigns than he used to, and channels his aggression more into his books than toward political opponents. His latest volume in that vein is called “The Clintons’ War on Women.” Stone instructed a waiter to bring him a “Ketel One Martini up, with a couple of olives, very dry.” (His favorite Martini recipe came from Richard Nixon, who got it from Winston Churchill.) But Stone sent the drink back, saying, “I’ve lost my taste for it.” ♦
Read the original story on: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/02/the-political-provocateur-roger-stone-talks-trump