Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she understands why former President Donald Trump has been a successful populist politician.
"What really struck me, and maybe it's because I'm a political scientist, is that the conditions that produced a populist leader, who had never been in government before, was something I think a lot of us had not paid much attention to, frankly," Rice said, The Hill reported.
"He touched the nerve of people who felt left out by globalization, who felt diminished by elites. That just assumed that the conversation was the conversation they were having, not the conversation that people who’d been left behind were having."
Speaking on "The Carlos Watson Show" this week, Rice said Trump reached voters by telling them "you contribute too, and they’ve forgotten you. They look down on you."
"That’s something that we probably still really need to pay attention to," she said. "As a political scientist, I guess I was more interested in what produced this in our society."
Rice, who served in the George W. Bush administration, previously had been critical of Trump. After George Floyd’s death while in police custody last summer, Rice said the former president should try to understand the plight of all Americans.
Trump was critical of the Black Lives Matter protests after Floyd's death.
"I would ask the president to first and foremost speak in the language of unity, the language of empathy. Not everyone is going to agree with any president, with this president, but you have to speak to every American, not just to those who might agree with you," Rice said then, according to The Hill. "When the president speaks, it needs to be from a place of thoughtfulness, from a place of having really honed the message so that it reaches all Americans."
Rice, a Stanford University professor, was asked by Watson if she had known Trump before he ran for president.
"I had met him a couple of times, but never in the context of politics," she said. "I remember thinking at the time, 'Well, this is going to be an interesting experiment.' We’re about to elect somebody whose first job in government is going to be president of the United States, and that was new."
Rice said Trump’s populism was not "anti-democratic."
"[British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson is a little bit this way, and it's not anti-democratic. People are wrong to say it’s anti-democratic," she said. "These are people who believe that the institutions are not really the way you reach people.
"If you think about the use of Twitter by populists, it goes around the media, it goes around the institutions. It’s a direct appeal to the people, and we’ve seen that before in history."
Rice, who has said she didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, also said she supported Trump’s right to question the election results, to a point.
"It was completely appropriate for President Trump to go to the courts about the election and all of that. We did have Bush v. Gore, which ended up in the Supreme Court," she said.
"But it was not appropriate to question, past a certain point, the legitimacy of those elections."
Trump has said he's mulling another run for president in 2024. In April, he said he thought a campaign would be "very successful."
"The polls show it and everybody wants me to do it," Trump said. "One hundred percent, I'm thinking about running and we will I think be very successful. We were very successful."
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