“If the Lord takes me home tomorrow, I’ve been blessed.” Dan Patrick talks about Trump’s victory.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick arrives at a Donald Trump rally at the Travis County Exposition Center Tuesday August 23, 2016. (Jay Janner)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick arrives at a Donald Trump rally at the Travis County Exposition Center Tuesday August 23, 2016. (Jay Janner)

 

Good morning Austin.

Moments after Donald Trump finished his victory speech early this morning, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired the Trump campaign in Texas, called.

We talked for 25 minutes.

Here is the exchange.

DP: Maybe I should interview you.

FR:  Yes. I’ll be the proxy for everybody else in America, the mainstream media, every pollster, the entire field of political consulting, what else?

DP: This is the most historic presidential election in the history of this nation and, while I never really doubted he would win, it’s still hard for even me to believe and I always believed.

FR: It didn’t even seem that the Trump campaign earlier in the day thought this would happen.

DP: I think they actually realized today as they looked at the exit polls and their internal polling that this could actually happen. And I’ve spent enough time with Trump now that the Trump you saw tonight in his acceptance speech I believe, is the real Trump and that is someone who, I tell people all the time – you know people say, what’s Trump like? I say he’s soft-spoken, he’s gracious, he’s kind, he loves people, he loves this country , and there was the other Trump who was the campaign Trump , who had to be bigger than life to win the election.

But the person you saw tonight in the acceptance speech is the Trump that I’ve been around all summer and the Trump when you’re on a plane with someone, as I did a few times with him when there’s no one around except just staff and a handful of people. You get to see the real guy, or when you’re standing backstage catching your breath for a moment you see the real guy. When you see him walk through the back entrance of a hotel and going through the kitchen, and stop to shake every hand and take a picture with everyone, including some people who may not be eligible to vote, when you see him work the motorcade line of all the police officers and take pictures and shake every hand.

I told him the last time we were together, several weeks (ago), we were flying from San Antonio to Dallas and it would be the last event that we would do, and at the end of events, he always mobbed for photographs and signatures. so I knew we wouldn’t have a chance to say goodby and I said to him – I kind of lagged behind so I would be the last guy on the plane with him, because I wanted a moment – I said, “Donald, millions of people are praying for you.” And he looked at me and said, “I know it,” and he said it in a way like, I feel it.

I also said to him, “I have an original signature of every president in the history of this country hanging in my office and I believe I am going to be hanging yours up next,” and he just smiled and then we went ahead and did the event.

He’s overwhelmed by the graciousness of the people. By the trust they have in him. I think he is overwhelmed by the moment and I think he’s humbled by this and I think it was clear tonight.

FR: Did you spend time with him outside of Texas.

DP:  No. Just on the four trips to Texas.

I’ve gotten to know Don Jr. very well. He and I communicate two or three times a week. In fact, I had Don do a tele-town hall call on Halloween night and he did it and so I’ve worked very closely with him and I’ve got to know Don Jr. very well.

FR: What do you think happened?

DP: You know the reason said I believed he was going to win – I was on Fox Friday and kind of listed all the states that he won tonight – because he understood the soul of America. He got it and Hillary Clinton was just clueless about where real America really was.

And I realize it was a close election, in terms of popular vote , but there is a grand canyon worth of difference between what she stood for and what he stood for and my faith is restored in America. My faith is restored in the voters who have reclaimed this country for themselves, and we were adrift, wages are stagnant, jobs are scarce, the military has been decimated, terrorists are at our doorstep, borders are open, trade deals have been unfair, education, inner-city parents and children deserved school choice, all these things that I knew in my heart, in my soul, that those message resonated with people, and so that’s why I believed he could win.

What I didn’t know was could they raise the money, could they build the organization in 90 days because remember, he had never raised any money or built an organization until he wrapped up the nomination in late June, so to catch up with the Clinton juggernaut of money and volunteers and paid staff in 90 days was another part of that incredible story.

And I think, I just sent a text to Reince Priebus and I congratulated him because he had to step up and help the campaign in a way that the party wouldn’t normally do because Trump was a different type of campaign, and I think Reince Priebus played a key part because they really put the ground game together nationally for them.

FR: But wasn’t it really about Trump’s direct communication with voters.

DT: Absolutely, I said to a lot of people last week, I really believe, I think I said it publicly as well to many people at different meetings, in speeches, I said, on election night, MSNBC and CNN and the left, the Democrats, are going sit around and say, “what the heck just happened,” because they really are out of touch with mainstream America, and (the Trump campaign) decided to take on the Washington establishment, the media establishment, and they rose up and let me tell you what it was a mighty struggle. You look at all these states – Florida and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, it took a Herculean effort to overcome the Clinton machine, and the people rose to the occasion because they believe in, as he says, the movement, they believe in the issues and they were looking for hope and he gave it to them.

FR: Trump did better than previous Republicans like Romney, but he didn’t do as well as Romney in Texas. Why not?

DP: I had said all along that I thought he would win Texas by 8 to 12 points, and it looks like the number is going to end up being somewhere between 9 and 10 with the final vote count, so it’s about where I thought, for a couple of reasons.

Maybe 20 percent of the Republican vote, the establishment, more moderate wing of the party, who may have not turned out. When Romney was on the ticket, and McCain, the conservatives turned out for those candidates even thought it wasn’t their first choice, but some of the moderates unfortunately stayed home. So that impacted probably two or three points of the victory that would have gotten him. I think Romney won by 16 and McCain won by 12.

I believe, secondly, the Trump campaign, except for doing a couple of rallies here and fund-raising, they didn’t put a massive effort into here, which they shouldn’t have. They had to focus on other states, so if he had come here and made a big push he would have been in the teens, but I’m very pleased as chair of the campaign in Texas for Trump, I’m very pleased with the outcome.

The Democrats, we’ve seen, again and again, a lot of brash talk in ’14 in Abbott’s and my race. We heard it here, and the brash talk never materialized. We are a crimson red Republican state. We do have battleground areas. It was a tough night down ballot in Houston. Trump did not do as well in Houston and Dallas and in Travis County, but he cleaned up everywhere else, and he will build upon that because he will spending a lot of time in Texas. He will be spending time here.

FR: Why?

DT: First of all, he loves it. It will be a great place for him to come campaign and raise money

Secondly, the border is going be a big part of his presidency so he will be spending time here.

He’s made a lot of great friends here, from the Christian community to the donor community and his son comes here and hunts a lot ,so they have a great affinity for Texas . So I think you will see President Trump here from time to time, but the focus is on the border.

Think about it.

We now have a president in the White House who is a good friend of Texas. I think Texas raised more money for him than any other state and so we also sent out 1000 volunteers on his behalf. Part of my job as chairman was to help organize the Mighty Texas Trump Strike Force. ask force. And I give all credit to the volunteers, Toni Anne Dashiell, Rhonda Lacy, Rick Potter, they were the big drives, so I don’t want to take credit for that. But I promised Trump and Don Jr. about six weeks ago that we’d muster a big army and we sent a thousand people to all of these battleground states. We had people. And so I know they are appreciative of that.

But we now have a good friend in the White House again, a formidable protector of the Second Amendment. He will protect the oil and gas industry and support it. What a refreshing change that is. He will get the federal government off of our backs. Just the amount of time and money and energy we spent it the last eight years having to sue and fight the Obama administration, the Justice Department and the EPA. I think Abbott said he sued Obama 31 times. Paxton probably already sued him a dozen times or more. Just knowing that that’s off of our backs.

FR: But can Texas Republican politicians adapt to not suing the federal government?

DP: Let me tell you something. I was one of the authors of photo voter ID. We are going to take that up and pass it again. What we passed the last time should have passed constitutional muster, but the Obama Justice Department threw it out.

Let me tell you something, knowing that we are going to have a conservative on the Supreme Court and he will appoint conservative judges moving forward, and all of these liberal judges that Obama appointed, if they go too far they will be overturned by a conservative Supreme Court. That means that we with confidence in the Texas Legislature can pass strong conservative legislation that is not going to be thrown out by the courts. That is such freedom because you know, when you put in so much time and so much work – I think photo voter ID, I think we debated on the floor 27 or 28 hours – and it was a good bill, and for that to be thrown out was just wrong.

So that is just a great relief, knowing we will have a partner on health care, that we’re going to get rid of Obamacare, repeal and replace it, whatever they do will be far better than what we have. We don’t have to worry about are we going to get various waivers and help from different agencies in Washington. I mean all the states are going to feel that way.

We picked up two more governors now nationally, so I think it’s 34, check the math , 34 or 35 governors. We have 35 lieutenant governors. The vast majority of states are now Republican, all those states are now actually going to be able to have someone on their side instead of against them.

But there’s no question that Obama put a target on our back and Hillary would have done it more than any other state because we were a thorn in their side. We kept them from controlling the country, because the electoral votes of Texas together with California, would make it impossible for a Republican to win. That’s why they came after Abbot and I in ’14. That’s why they came so hard this time and they’ll come back in ’18. But it’s a totally different world. It’s a good day

FR: Will there be some Texas going to Washington?

DP: It won’t be me. I don’t know that I would asked, but if I were asked I would politely and respectfully turn it down because I love being lieutenant governor and it is the best job in state politics in the country, so I’m not going anywhere.

And I‘ve talked to some people in their transition team already. They are going to need thousands of people, thousands of people, and like other presidential candidates in the past, who knew governors, or knew members of the Legislature or congressmen and senators and lieutenant governors or attorney generals or whoever it would be. He doesn’t have those same relationships with the states, so he’s going to be having to fill –he’s not going to replace everyone on Day One, but basically, you don’t want the Obama appointees, everything from US attorneys to the Cabinet heads to the undersecretaries to the ambassadors. You want to wipe that slate clean. You don’t want the Obama mentality and ideology being pat of your presidency. But that will take him a while, take him a while to find those folks.

I intend to do all I can, I assure you, I’ve already recommended some people, and I will continue to recommend people. We should be well represented in the energy sector. I’m sure they will be .I don’t know that the secretary of energy will be from Texas but we’ll have a seat at the table, which we clearly did not have with Obama. Education, border security , all of these issue. I intend to talk and to see that Texas has a big role in all of that, but I’m staying here. I’m running for lieutenant governor in 2018, that’s what my goal is.

FR: Might Rick Perry have a place in the Trump administration?

DP: I think he could. Hes been out there working hard, in fact we had an event in July in Houston and Gov. Perry and I were on the plane with Trump, and we came to Houston, we were in San Antonio and came to Houston, and (Trump) was kind enough to introduce me and he also introduced Gov. Perry and said, “I’d like to take this guy to Washington with me.” I think those were his words. So we’ll see.

FR: Do you think there is still any bad blood between Sen. Cruz and Trump?

DP: No, no. I think Ted is positioned very well, and I think Trump, I know personally, Trump was appreciative of Ted stepping up in September. It was a big deal and so they’ll work together fine.

I look at someone like Mike McCaul, and I know there’s been some discussion about maybe he’s going to challenge Ted. I think Michael McCaul could well be the next Homeland Security director or attorney general. When you talk about people having a role in the administration. I think McCaul, who has done a great job as chairman of Homeland Security and has the background of working for the former attorney general, you know, I think he could have a role very easily.

I think a lot of Texans could have an opportunity, but I’m staying put. The only reason I wanted to help  – I was honored that he handpicked me to do this job as chair –  I just wanted him to win, I didn’t want anything in return expect wanting him to win, and I feel like we have an ally in the White House and that’s good.

FR: One last question. Your voice sounds a little different. Is this really Dan Patrick.

DP: Yes it is. I’ve had a cold for a while. I think I’m talked out

FR: Do you know when you will next to the president-elect.

DP: I have no idea. He’s going to be busy with so much to do I wouldn’t expect him to call and I’m sure not going to bother him. I assure you, he’s got a lot to do to get ready to be president.

I intend to go to inauguration. I’ll communicate through Don Jr. how I normally do.  I don’t’ presume to contact the president-elect unless its’ something to do with Texas. But we’ll work through, as he builds his staff out, we’ll work with his staff on the needs of Texas. I’ve already sent a note off to the family.  He doesn’t need to call Dan Patrick or anybody. He just needs to get work.

FR: Is it Don Jr. who hunts in Texas.

DP: Yes. Don Jr. has been here quite a bit. They’ve talked about how they’re members of the NRA. Don Jr., from the people I know in Texas who have hunted with him, one of Don Jr’s. very, very best friends, a roommate in college is a Texan, and I’ve been told that Don Jr. is as good a marksman as anyone who’s not a  professional, so he loves to hunt. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on hunting trip in Texas in the near future.

FR: Are you doing anything tomorrow.

DP: We’re just available for the media.

As it comes.

What a great day, I feel very relaxed about the future for my four grandchildren and my children. You know I’m good. If the Lord takes  me home tomorrow, I’ve been blessed. I was really worried about the  future under Hillary, just because of her policies and so I feel like we really have a shot to make America great again.

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