- Trump was told over a McDonald’s meal to stop whining and get his act together after losing the 2016 GOP Iowa caucuses.
- “If he wants to continue to bitch about the results in Iowa … this race was over,” Corey Lewandowski said he warned Trump at the time.
- Lewandowski and 21 other insiders spoke to Insider for its definitive history of Trump becoming the king of the GOP.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
It’s long been known that former President Donald Trump has an affinity for fast food.
His love affair with burgers and fries also features prominently in a key part of the story into how Trump aides thought he was on the verge of nearly blowing his chance of becoming the Republican presidential nominee in 2016.
Upset about losing the Republican Iowa caucuses in 2016 to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the future president’s aides placated him over a McDonald’s meal in New Hampshire.
“I called the grown children – Don, Eric, and Ivanka – told them what was happening, brought Mr. Trump in, and, over a meal of McDonald’s in the back room of our Manchester office, told him that if he wants to continue to bitch about the results in Iowa and not lay out his vision for what he wanted to achieve for America to the people in New Hampshire, this race was over,” Corey Lewandowski, who was Trump’s 2016 campaign manager at the time, told Insider in the definitive oral history of how his boss took over the GOP.
Insider spoke with nearly two dozen insiders who had front-row seats for Trump’s ascent to king of the party.
“It was a very candid conversation, it was just he and I in the room,” Lewandowski added. “He listened intently. You walked out of that room. He went to a town-hall meeting with CNN that afternoon and Manchester. He came and ran a positive message.”
Trump would go on to win the New Hampshire Republican primary.
After he lost in Iowa in 2016, Trump made it no secret that he was enraged. Offering a preview of how he would eventually respond to losing the 2020 election, Trump accused Cruz of fraud.
“Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!” Trump said in a February 2016 tweet.
Throughout the 2016 campaign cycle, Trump relentlessly attacked Cruz – often referring to him as “Lyin’ Ted.” At one point, the former reality TV star alleged that Cruz’s father was linked to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Trump also insulted the appearance of Heidi Cruz, the Texas Republican’s wife. Cruz responded to the attack in a tweet, stating, “Donald, real men don’t attack women. Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life.”
Though Cruz and Trump frequently butted heads during the 2016 campaign season, the Texas senator swiftly morphed into a close ally of real-estate mogul-turned-politician once he was in the White House. The drastic shift in the dynamic between the two was emblematic of how Trump rapidly consolidated power in the GOP and demanded loyalty.
To read the full Trump oral history story, click here.