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>> Tonight...
>> I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear...
>> As Donald Trump begins his presidency...
>> We had won the election that no one thought we could win.
>> The inside story of how he got there.
>> Once I understood that he was willing to double down and be
a fighter for what he believes in, I'm all in.
>> They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks.
>> It felt like a box of matches even before he took the stage,
and they were just waiting for Donald Trump to come
and light it.
>> From his closest advisors...
>> I had said to Mr. Trump one day, "Are you ready to win?"
>> And his rivals.
>> Director Comey's letter...
>> Just got smacked by a two-by-four.
And it came out of nowhere.
>> The provocative campaign...
>> Nobody knows the system better than me.
>> the presidency.
>> Which is why I alone can fix it.
>> Tonight on Frontline...
>> So help me God...
>> "Trump's Road to the White House."
>> Tonight's program contains graphic language.
Viewer discretion is advised.
>> Today is finally the day.
The presidential nominees have made their final...
>> Today is decision day in America and we are taking a look
at the presidential race...
>> After a long, contentious presidential race...
>> NARRATOR: On Election Day,
Donald Trump and his senior campaign team were huddled
at Trump Tower.
>> They went into election night
believing that they were going to lose.
>> the polls close across the country...
>> NARRATOR: At 5:00 they received the first exit polls.
>> We're counting down to the first poll closings right now...
>> When we got those early returns, the exit polls,
and I actually got it about 5:01, we all had
a little bit of a gut punch.
>> If Trump wants to win,
he's got to hold onto Florida and North Carolina...
>> In state after state he was so far behind that I knew
that he was going to lose,
because the exit polls don't get it wrong.
>> We were getting crushed in like Michigan, Pennsylvania.
I mean just... and so, from like 6:00 on, you know,
we're all like, "Oh, my God."
>> And look at all these wins we're projecting
for Hillary Clinton right now.
Take a look at the electoral map now...
>> NARRATOR: It seemed to confirm what the media
and political establishment had been saying for months:
Donald Trump never had a chance.
>> Every senior Republican that I talked to,
with only one exception, thought that Trump was going to lose.
>> NARRATOR: But as the votes were counted in Florida,
a surprise.
>> And CNN projects Donald Trump will carry the state
of Florida.
With its 29 electoral votes, Donald...
>> NARRATOR: Florida was just the beginning.
>> There's a big ole call to make right now.
Donald Trump has won the state of Wisconsin
and there goes her blue wall.
>> Late on election night
one of his senior campaign officials emailed me
and just said, "Can you type President Trump?"
>> Fox News has called Pennsylvania for Donald Trump.
>> Our communications director, Jason Miller, held up and said,
"A.P. just called."
And I said, "Just called what? Which state?"
And he said, "The whole race."
>> This means that Donald Trump
will be the 45th president of the United States.
The most unreal, surreal election we have ever seen.
>> Chris Christie's son said,
"Kellyanne, your phone is ringing."
And I looked down and it said Huma Abedin.
And she said, "Secretary Clinton would like to speak
with Mr. Trump."
And I said, "Right now?"
And she said, "If he's available."
And I said, "He's available."
And I said, "Sir, Secretary Clinton."
>> NARRATOR: She had been first lady, a senator,
and secretary of state.
She conceded to an entrepreneur, reality TV star,
and novice politician.
The call lasted about a minute.
>> In an electoral college
victory that virtually no one saw coming a year ago,
a few months ago...
Even a month ago, even yesterday...
>> It was an "Oh, my God" moment.
It was euphoria that we had won the election
that no one thought we could win.
>> NARRATOR: Not long after,
to the music from Harrison Ford's movie Air Force One,
the president-elect arrived at his victory celebration.
>> Even for him, it was an overwhelming feeling
to see yourself be elected president of the United States.
>> You're never going to see anybody like this again.
He is somebody that defied every political rule that existed
in a way that nobody has ever done before.
>> It's my honor.
It's an amazing evening.
It's been an amazing two-year period.
And I love this country.
Thank you.
>> NARRATOR: It was an unprecedented outcome.
Over 17 months, Donald Trump had broken nearly every rule
of American politics.
Then came the question whether the way he had campaigned
would be the way he would govern.
>> Trump is going to be Trump.
This idea that you can make him into something else, that's not
what the people voted for.
They voted for Trump as he is.
That's the way they want him to be.
And nobody is going to remake him.
He will either succeed or fail being Donald Trump.
>> The sheer unpredictability of a President Donald Trump...
>> unpredictable the new terrain here in Washington is...
>> this our new normal, is there reason for concern?
>> It's the creation of a new reality.
>> Donald Trump has broken the rules of what it means
to be president-elect.
>> What Trump are we going to see, do you think?
>> We're going to constantly have rules that are broken,
and my way or the highway...
>> A President Trump is very much a wild card...
>> We'll call it a political earthquake, an unraveling
of the system, or even a revolution...
>> NARRATOR: The seeds of Donald Trump's presidency are
embedded in his path to power.
He redefined what it meant
to be a serious presidential candidate,
starting with his announcement.
>> I remember watching the announcement, and laughing
at the entertainment value, the way a lot of people did.
>> In Washington you could almost just hear people
around town laughing at the... at the... at the idea
that this person was going to be a credible threat.
He seemed like a cartoon character.
>> He did the exact opposite of what every candidate has done
before him.
It was like extending the middle finger
to the political establishment.
And in doing that in that very first moment, people took a look
at him and said, "You know what, he really is different."
>> That is some group of people, thousands...
>> I wrote what was supposed to be his announcement speech,
and that speech was supposed to clock in at about seven minutes
and 43 seconds.
>> We got to make the country rich.
It sounds crass.
Somebody said, "Oh, that's crass."
It's not crass.
We got $18 trillion in debt.
>> Probably three or four minutes into his remarks,
I could clearly tell that these were not the prepared remarks,
which I had drafted.
And then he had gone on to make an announcement speech
which lasted somewhere around 45 or 48 minutes.
>> When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best.
They're bringing drugs.
They're bringing crime.
They're rapists.
And some, I assume, are good people.
>> When he made his comments about Mexicans,
everybody was convinced, "That's it.
He just blew himself up."
Everybody was like, uh, "This is going to be
the death of him."
>> NARRATOR: Behind the scenes, Trump's campaign
was as unconventional as his announcement.
>> Donald Trump's campaign was lean and small and, in a sense,
run out of Donald Trump's, you know, instincts.
I mean, he threw all of the normal things out the window.
>> NARRATOR: Corey Lewandowski, an obscure political operative,
was the campaign's manager.
>> In my very first meeting with Mr. Trump
when he offered me the position to be his campaign manager
in January of 2015, he asked me what I thought his odds were
of winning the Republican nomination.
I said five percent.
And he said ten.
I said, "Let's settle at seven and a half."
>> NARRATOR: They worked 50 floors below
Trump's New York penthouse.
It had once housed the set where The Apprentice was shot.
>> All of the Apprentice camera equipment and furniture had been
ripped out of it.
You looked up at the ceiling and it was open piping.
It was barebones.
And a lot of Trump pictures all over the walls.
>> NARRATOR: As key advisors, Trump chose his children.
Running things behind the scenes, his son-in-law,
Jared Kushner.
>> It's this family business.
With Ivanka and her brothers Eric and Don Jr.,
and Ivanka's husband Jared,
we had this kind of council of advisors around Trump
that he would turn to.
>> NARRATOR: The campaign had a fundamental rule:
"Let Trump be Trump."
>> I used to liken my role to being a jockey
on a great racehorse-- let's say American Pharoah.
And my job was to maybe drive that horse into the corners
a little bit and put some blinders on,
but you got to let it run.
>> Donald Trump is back on the road campaigning at...
>> NARRATOR: He caused controversy from the very start.
>> Trump trying to secure the evangelical vote
with three campaign events in Iowa today.
>> NARRATOR: In Iowa, as he was interviewed
by Republican pollster Frank Luntz...
>> And he and I get into an exchange over John McCain,
because he is taking shots at McCain and I thought
they were gratuitous.
>> He's not a war hero.
>> He's a war hero. >> He's a war hero...
>> Five-and-a-half years of...
>> He's a war hero because he was captured.
I like people that weren't captured, okay?
I hate to tell you.
>> Do you agree with that?
>> He's a war hero because he was captured.
>> I couldn't believe he said that.
I was completely stunned.
Everyone in that room thought, "This is it, it's over."
>> Folks, I want to make America great again.
We want to get down to brass tacks.
We don't want to listen to his stuff with being
politically correct and everything has...
we have a lot of work to do.
>> You know, I asked Mr. Trump after he came off the stage
to have a private conversation with him, and I said,
"I think we need to fix this."
And when I said "Fix it," I meant an apology.
And Donald Trump understood things that I didn't understand
about the American people,
said, "No, no, you don't understand."
>> NARRATOR: Trump refused to apologize.
>> And once I understood that he was willing to double down
on his comments, and be a fighter for what he believes in,
I'm all in.
And I'm there with you, to support you.
>> Don Voyage, Trump is toast after insult...
>> Everything erupted after this because social media exploded...
>> Virtually every Republican criticized Trump...
>> This clip is played on every newscast for the next 48 hours.
>> So far Trump's political campaign operates
with a no guts, no glory approach.
>> And he survived it.
He survived walls and Mexicans and everything.
That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger,
and if you ever needed any evidence,
just look at Donald Trump.
>> The biggest event to date in campaign 2016...
>> Top ten candidates taking the stage...
>> Donald Trump gearing up for the crucial...
>> NARRATOR: Two and a half weeks later in Cleveland,
the first Republican debate.
>> Businessman Donald Trump.
>> NARRATOR: He was facing off against a group of candidates
Republican leaders touted as the best in a generation.
>> It is 9:00 p.m. on the East Coast.
And the moment of truth has arrived.
>> Among the other candidates
there was this sort of smug confidence
that we know what we're doing.
This guy is from show business,
a little bit Hollywood, lot of razzle-dazzle.
>> NARRATOR: Early in the debate, he faced
a crucial test-- whether his tabloid past
and outrageous statements would sink his campaign.
>> You've called women you don't like "fat pigs," "dogs,"
"slobs," and "disgusting animals."
Your Twitter account...
>> Only Rosie O'Donnell.
>> No, it wasn't.
>> Trump doesn't deny it.
He simply says, "I only said that about Rosie O'Donnell."
And in a way that is pure Trump.
>> What I say is what I say.
And honestly, Megyn, if you don't like it, I'm sorry.
I've been very nice to you,
although I could probably maybe not be based on the way
you have treated me, but I wouldn't do that.
>> He's doing something that is both repellent
and completely authentic, all at once.
And he's acknowledging that he said these horrid things.
He's not shirking it.
I think there were voters out there that said, "You go, man.
"You said exactly what you think,
and you're not backing down."
>> NARRATOR: And Trump wasn't done.
After the debate, the candidates appeared
in what is known as spin alley.
Trump kept the controversy going.
>> Donald Trump shows up, as if he needed this hit of adrenaline
before he went home to New York.
>> You guys okay?
Don't hurt yourselves.
>> It was like mosquitos to a lantern on a summer night.
I mean the entire national press corps descended.
>> People were being trampled and camera equipment was flying
all over the place and I'd never seen a scene like this.
I mean, I've seen many media stampedes but nothing like that.
>> What's your history with Megyn?
>> I think, I think Megyn behaved very badly, personally.
>> The question about women.
You didn't like that?
>> I thought it was an unfair question.
>> Trump can't help himself
because he considers anybody questioning his bona fides
as someone who he needs to decapitate, essentially.
>> NARRATOR: It was just the beginning.
At 3:40 in the morning, he lit up Twitter.
>> Wow, @megynkelly really bombed tonight.
People are going wild on Twitter!
Funny to watch.
>> NARRATOR: On the phone with CNN, he pushed harder.
>> What is it with you and Megyn Kelly?
>> She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions.
And, you know, you could see there was blood
coming out of her eyes.
Uh, blood coming out of her wherever.
>> Donald Trump attacks her and suggests she only asked
a tough question because she was menstruating.
I mean, um...
and his numbers went up.
>> She's a lightweight, I couldn't care less about her.
>> At every stage in the campaign, Donald Trump was
perfectly happy to have the elites be aghast at him.
The kind of non-politically correct, decisive, tough,
battling kind of personality
that he was putting forward in that debate
and in the confrontations with Megyn Kelly
and others that he sought out.
>> NARRATOR: While the media controversy swirled,
Trump was out in the country building his base.
His personal plane rolled up to hangars
filled with curious onlookers, eager to see
the reality TV star in person.
>> There were a lot of people
who were there who were pure curiosity seekers.
They were there to see a celebrity.
They were there to see the guy they know from The Apprentice.
>> Trump is a producer at heart.
And when he did these rallies,
he made sure that the staging was perfect.
So we see the same elements that Trump applied
in his hit TV show The Apprentice.
We saw that in the early rallies.
>> ♪ We're not gonna take it. ♪
♪ No, we ain't gonna take it. ♪
>> And right at the moment of the first chord,
Trump hits the stage.
And I felt this wave go through me and that was the moment
that I realized, "Holy (bleep), this is real."
It was like Pavlov's dog.
He hits the stage, they erupt.
I had never seen this before.
>> Trump just had them in the palm of his hand.
He... I mean, they were responding to him.
He was responding to them.
>> Those crowds at those rallies, they were
tremendously energizing to him.
I mean, it was a... it was a symbiotic relationship.
They fed off of each other.
The crowd fed off of him, he fed off of the crowd.
>> For Donald, confidence is a huge part of the game.
This was the whole point of all those rallies.
It wasn't just to fire up people to vote for him.
It was to fire up Donald Trump.
He feeds off of audiences in a way that I think
very few politicians do and needed to be energized
by the affirmation.
And it worked.
>> And you know we're in...
look at all those live television feeds,
it's always tough, every time I speak they put me
on live television, so I have to make different speeches.
These guys go around,
they make the same speech hundreds and hundreds
and hundreds of times, nobody cares.
It's true.
>> He was looking out at the camera bank.
And he could see the red light on the camera.
And that meant that he was live on CNN.
>> You got CNN live, you've got them all, and...
>> Or Fox or one of the other networks.
And he said that what he tried to do in those rallies was say
whatever it took to keep the red light on.
>> Now if you like the media,
give them a big hand, and if you don't, give them a big boo.
>> NARRATOR: Rather than rely primarily on polls...
>> I had a feeling...
>> NARRATOR: Trump watched to see how the crowd reacted.
>> Early on, they were kind of these rally speeches
were a bit rambling and all over the place.
As he went on, he started to really hone his message
and he started to remember what lines worked.
>> We're going to have such a strong military that nobody,
nobody is going to mess with us.
>> NARRATOR: And what the crowds wanted: Donald Trump.
>> We are led by very stupid people.
>> NARRATOR: Unfiltered...
>> We are going to start winning big league.
>> NARRATOR: Angry...
>> We can't beat ISIS.
Give me a break.
>> And it was every location.
It was the same messages:
"We're tired of Washington lying to us."
>> We're going to drive the cars over the illegals.
Build a wall!
>> Build a wall!
>> The American people are angry,
and they have a right to be.
And what they see in Donald Trump is someone who's willing
to fight for them for a change.
>> NARRATOR: He called them "the forgotten"
and spoke directly to their fears and anger--
at Washington, at trade deals, at immigration.
>> People in this country are afraid of illegal immigrants.
People in this country have become afraid
of random violence.
They're afraid of jobs being shipped overseas.
There is so much that scares Americans.
And Donald Trump is the only politician who talked
to those concerns and those fears.
To his critics it's fear mongering,
to his supporters it's truth telling.
>> Donald Trump is the projected winner
of the New Hampshire primary.
>> He gains his front-runner status in a crowded field.
>> He's pulling ahead
in virtually every Super Tuesday state.
>> NARRATOR: In one state after another...
>> We love Nevada.
We love Nevada, thank you.
>> NARRATOR: ...Trump proved that he could use his base
of working class voters to win.
>> It's mostly white, they don't like political correctness,
they feel like they can't speak their mind at home or at work,
so they want something else.
Trump strolls in, he says exactly what they want to hear.
>> We are going to make...
>> This makes back-to-back victories for...
>> Donald Trump dominating his third consecutive...
>> Donald Trump is
a professional political wrecking ball...
>> NARRATOR: Finally his opponents had
to take him seriously.
>> At that point the establishment suddenly wakes up
and says, "We've got to do something.
"We've got to go after him.
We can't ignore him anymore."
>> He's a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.
And you know how you make America great again?
Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.
>> The establishment feared him for a lot of reasons.
One, he was not of them.
Two, he didn't play by their rules.
And three, they genuinely thought he was a threat,
certainly to the Republican Party, to conservatism,
and if he got that far, to the nation.
>> Guys, we have a con artist as the frontrunner
in the Republican Party.
A guy who has made a career out of telling people lies.
>> He was a shock to the Republican establishment
and they did everything they could, for the most part,
to prevent him.
>> Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.
His promises are as worthless
as a degree from Trump University.
He's playing the members of the American public for suckers.
>> Every time the establishment attacked Trump,
it played into the narrative that they wanted
to put out there, which was that he was so anti-establishment,
they were going to do anything
that they could to take him down.
>> This man is a pathological liar.
He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.
>> Tonight, live from the Peace Center
in Greenville, South Carolina...
>> NARRATOR: On the debate stage, Trump hit back.
>> You are the single biggest liar,
you probably are worse than Jeb Bush.
You are the single biggest liar.
>> One by one, each rival comes at him.
He throws them away.
>> This guy lies.
Two days ago he said he would take his pants off
and moon everybody.
>> Tosses a barb in their direction,
diminishes them personally.
>> And then he tells me, "Oh, my language
was a little bit rough."
>> Destroys their record.
>> This little guy has lied so much about my record.
>> Donald Trump had the ability to just grab the microphone,
just trample over people.
That was entertaining.
It was different.
>> He hit my hands.
Nobody has ever hit my hands.
I've never heard of this...
Look at those hands.
Are they small hands?
And he referred to my hands, if they're small,
something else must be small.
I guarantee you there's no problem.
I guarantee it.
>> It was ruthless political performance by Donald Trump.
He had nothing to lose and he owed nothing
to the Republican Party.
So instead of standing there as a member of a party
trying to get the nomination, he was there for Trump.
That changed everything.
>> Scott Walker is quitting the presidential race...
>> NARRATOR: One by one...
>> Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie have suspended
their campaigns.
>> NARRATOR: Trump's competitors began to fall off.
>> Neurosurgeon Ben Carson dropping out of the 2016...
>> NARRATOR: But on the campaign trail, at some rallies,
things were increasingly ugly.
>> The anger only increased as it got farther along.
>> It became completely acceptable.
It became okay to come to a Trump rally and wear a shirt
that says Hillary Clinton is a C-(bleep)-(bleep)-T.
>> Lock her up! Lock her up...
>> NARRATOR: And there were some in the crowds
with a darker agenda.
>> The campaign is continually dogged by a small
and vocal number of white supremacists,
Klansmen, neo-Nazis.
>> Some would come in wearing Confederate flags
on their t-shirts.
>> This isn't a very large group of people,
but they are very vocal.
And they attach themselves to Trump.
>> Trump, whenever there was a moment to draw a line
between himself and these extreme parts
of the voting bloc, he refused.
I think without question, the only way you can interpret that
is that he was going to use these groups to try to build
this coalition.
>> NARRATOR: It wasn't long before anti-Trump protestors
began to show up inside the rallies.
>> There's a guy,
totally disruptive, throwing punches.
I love the old days.
Do you know what they used to do to guys like that
when they were in a place like this?
They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks.
I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you.
>> You start seeing these really ugly moments
at the rallies, um, with protesters,
some of whom are nonwhite protestors, getting treated
very violently by his supporters.
Trump himself seemed to incite his supporters
to go after protestors.
>> Knock the crap out of him, would you?
Just knock the hell...
I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise.
I promise.
>> NARRATOR: Trump didn't just turn on protestors,
he also directed the anger at the media.
>> Absolute dishonest, absolute scum.
Remember that.
Scum. Scum.
>> NARRATOR: NBC's Katy Tur became a frequent target
after one of her reports.
>> She's back there.
Little Katy.
She's back there.
>> He calls me out at the rally,
"Look back there, little Katy, she's back there."
And I was like, "What?"
>> What a lie it was.
(crowd booing)
No, what a lie, Katie Tur.
What a lie it was from NBC to have written that.
It was a total lie.
>> We are surrounded on all sides with people
who are fired up and angry.
>> Third-rate reporter, remember that, third rate.
Third rate.
>> And they're whipped up by Donald Trump.
I described it as like, you know, an unchained beast
roaring at you in a crowd.
And the whole... the whole place turns at me, looks at me,
and boos.
>> NARRATOR: By July, Donald Trump headed
to the G.O.P. convention after soundly defeating
the establishment candidates.
>> Let's face it, he was larger than the Republican Party.
In fact, his nomination was the hostile takeover
of the Republican Party.
In this case the Republican Party is just a vehicle to get
his name on the ballot.
But his reach was always greater
than the Republican Party's reach.
>> NARRATOR: He had won the nomination
of a divided Republican Party.
Now he would see if he could apply the same strategy
to winning the presidency of a divided country.
>> Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation.
The attacks on our police and the terrorism of our cities
threaten our very way of life.
>> But I think the essential message there was, you have been
neglected and abused by the powers that be,
whether they are politicians
or the media or academia, or Hollywood.
All of those folks are conspiring against you,
the good, right-thinking middle Americans.
>> I have joined the political arena
so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people
who cannot defend themselves.
(cheers and applause)
Nobody knows the system better than me.
(laughter and applause)
Which is why I alone can fix it.
>> He just said, "Me.
"I'm the only person that can do this.
You have to support me."
That's the language of a strongman.
That's the language that you hear in autocratic societies.
>> I had at least five reporters approach me and say,
"Didn't you think Trump's speech was too dark?"
And I told them all, "No, I think the country
"is in deep trouble.
"We're in very dire times.
"And to pussyfoot around that and claim things are great
"is a mistake.
And we need a strongman."
>> Hillary!
Hillary! Hillary!
>> And so, my friends...
>> NARRATOR: Just one week later,
at the Democratic Convention, Hillary Clinton accepted
her party's nomination.
>> That I accept your nomination
for president of the United States!
>> NARRATOR: Clinton's strategy
was to draw on Obama's legacy and bet big on diversity.
>> This is a time of change for America and it's a time
to take stock and reaffirm the values
that we hold as Americans.
And that meant embracing the diversity.
>> Please welcome Khizr Khan.
>> NARRATOR: One moment turned out to be the centerpiece
of their efforts--
a speech by the father of a Muslim American soldier
killed in combat.
>> If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been
in America.
Donald Trump consistently smears the character
of Muslims.
He disrespects other minorities,
women, judges, even his own party leadership.
>> I don't think anybody or very few people who were planning
the convention thought simply that moment alone
would be as powerful as it was.
>> Donald Trump: Have you even read
the United States Constitution?
(cheers and applause)
I will... I will gladly lend you my copy.
>> NARRATOR: As he watched Khan's speech, Trump saw
an opportunity to go on the attack.
>> I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan
at the Democratic Convention.
>> And his advisors thought this was not a good idea.
He shouldn't have done it.
But Donald Trump just can't help himself.
>> Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me
from the stage of the D.N.C.
and is now all over TV doing the same.
>> The Khan episode illustrates Donald's major flaw,
is he can't let something go and he can't notice
that he's losing a fight until he's really lost it.
>> Now on "This Week"...
>> He went after Khan's wife, Gazal.
>> If you look at his wife, she was standing there.
She had nothing to say.
She probably... maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.
You tell me, but plenty of people have written that.
>> Amid mounting backlash over Trump's comments,
his campaign went into damage control mode.
>> NARRATOR: Veterans groups were outraged.
>> At least two new polls show Hillary Clinton
with a widening lead over Trump.
>> NARRATOR: As Trump's poll numbers collapsed...
>> Republicans in particular have been quick to respond...
>> NARRATOR: Republican leaders further distanced themselves.
>> Republican Senator John McCain offered
a scathing rebuke...
>> And his advisors are horrified.
I mean, this is like... this is political suicide.
And, um, they say to Trump, you know,
"You know you just attacked a Gold Star family."
And he said, "Well, what's that?"
Trump just sees it as a personal attack and it's within his right
to go on the counterattack.
>> Trump's ongoing battle
with the family of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan...
>> NARRATOR: Virtually all the professionals expected Trump
to change his tactics, to pivot.
>> Everybody always wanted to mold Mr. Trump
into their own image of what a candidate should look like,
what a president should look like.
And if there's one thing that wasn't going to change
about Mr. Trump was that he was going to stay true to himself,
you know, whatever that means, and that...
that if he was going to win this campaign, he was going to do it
on his own terms.
>> NARRATOR: With barely 80 days before the election,
Trump shook up his campaign and brought in Steve Bannon,
the chairman of the right-wing website Breitbart.
>> Bannon is a bomb thrower.
Bannon joins the campaign because Bannon has
a superior knowledge of alternative media
combined with the fact that he is kind of a swashbuckler
and a revolutionary, a guy who can think outside the box.
>> NARRATOR: It was a sign Trump was doubling down.
>> Steve Bannon has made very clear
all through his recent career, his goal is to blow up
the establishment.
It's to take down the government as we know it.
It's to destroy the Republican Party as it was constituted.
I mean, he is a disrupter in, you know,
in almost every way.
>> NARRATOR: As his new campaign manager,
another unconventional pick: a pollster, Kellyanne Conway,
who had bad news for Trump.
>> On that day, I told him, I said, "What's going on?
"Because you're running against the most joyless candidate
"in presidential political history
and this place is starting to seem like it."
And he said, "No."
And I said, "I've looked at the polls."
He said, "the polls."
And I said, "I've looked at the polls and we're losing.
But we don't need to lose, you should be winning."
>> Trump is hoping to finally put that controversy behind him.
>> NARRATOR: They faced a formidable challenge.
>> NARRATOR: The first presidential debate.
>> As Trump and Clinton get ready to go head to head...
>> What will likely be the most watched political showdown
in American history...
>> NARRATOR: As he had throughout his campaign,
Trump was willing to gamble-- he'd rely on his instincts,
not preparation.
>> There's actually a point of pride
that he doesn't have to prepare.
He values raw ability over study.
So he wanted to prove that he was right about that.
>> NARRATOR: Trump mocked Clinton for spending
so much of her time preparing for the debate.
>> You know, you've seen me, I've been all over the place.
You decided to stay home, and that's okay.
>> Arguably he was the worst prepared candidate
in the history of American politics
when he stepped up against Hillary Clinton
for that first debate, and it showed.
>> I think Donald just criticized me
for preparing for this debate.
And, yes, I did.
And you know what else I prepared for?
I prepared to be president.
And I think that's a good thing.
>> She knew how to get under his skin.
She had been practicing.
She had been studying him.
>> Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax
perpetrated by the Chinese.
I think it's real.
I think science is real.
>> I do not... I did not... I do not say that.
>> Her team knew what were his...
knew what his buttons were.
And she just started unleashing them one after the other.
>> You call yourself the King of Debt.
You talk about leverage.
You even at one time suggested that you would try
to negotiate down the...
>> Wrong.
>> ...national debt of the United States.
>> Wrong.
>> And he lost... he lost control of the debate.
>> Let me say this...
>> There's nothing crazy about not letting our companies
bring their money back into their country.
>> This is... this is Secretary Clinton's two minutes, please.
>> I have a feeling that by the end of this evening
I'm going to be blamed for everything that's ever happened.
>> Why not?
>> Why not, yeah.
Why not?
>> Hillary Clinton was very artful in getting
under Mr. Trump's skin
and bringing up the issues
that were like putting, you know, gasoline on a fire.
>> One of the worst things he said was about a woman
in a beauty contest.
And, he called this woman "Miss Piggy."
Then he called her "Miss Housekeeping,"
because she was Latina.
Donald, she has a name.
>> Where did you find this?
Where did you find this?
Where did you find it?
>> Her name is Alicia Machado and she has become
a U.S. citizen and you can bet she's going to vote
this November.
>> Oh really?
Okay, okay, good.
>> NARRATOR: Trump would insist he had won.
>> ...our debate for this evening.
>> He was crushed in the first debate.
I don't care whatever pronouncements he wants to make.
He was crushed by every possible...
Our focus group thought he was awful.
>> ...down in Palm Beach.
I moved on her and I failed.
I'll admit it.
>> NARRATOR: It would get even worse for Trump.
>> NARRATOR: Just two days before the second debate,
an un-aired video from the TV show Access Hollywood.
>> There was one account after another about Donald Trump
attacking women, groping women, saying nasty things about women.
But the moment that counts is the moment this is on video.
>> Here's a guy who's making crude, disgusting jokes
and the father in you,
the brother in you comes out, and the husband in you.
And you can't defend it.
>> The Trump camp has swiftly launched into disaster mode...
>> A big, big development in this campaign as it comes to...
>> Right after that tape came out,
suddenly everybody on the Trump team went radio silent.
>> This was the October surprise.
Had the ability to take down a campaign.
And the internal discussion amongst the campaign, some were,
"You need to apologize immediately,"
and some were "You need to double down."
>> Donald Trump's campaign, its worst crisis ever.
>> We keep being told, "He is going to come on TV.
"He is going to say something.
He is going to apologize."
And it gets delayed and delayed.
And finally he comes out there and it's an apology of sorts.
>> I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended
to be someone that I'm not.
I've said and done things I regret,
and the words released today
on this more than a decade-old video
are one of them.
>> And so he went on Facebook later that night
and gave what was, by Trump's standards, a contrite apology.
But then he went on the attack.
>> Bill Clinton has actually abused women,
and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed
and intimidated his victims.
>> I think Trump being Trump,
his only instinct in those moments when his back
is against the wall is to just go on the counter-attack.
>> We will discuss this more in the coming days.
See you at the debate on Saturday.
>> I think with the exception of maybe one or two people,
everyone thought that that was the end.
How do you survive this?
How do you survive this?
As a Republican, how do you survive advocating or saying
you're allowed to grab women in their private parts
because you're a star?
That is just not something that anybody can survive.
>> I think the question now is,
how do Republicans down the ballot break away from him?
>> NARRATOR: The next day he appeared outside Trump Tower.
To many it seemed like his candidacy was over.
>> I called Trump the day after Access Hollywood.
And I ask him point blank, "Are you going to quit the race?"
That's what was on everyone's minds.
And he says, "Costa, I've lived life.
"I've seen so much in my life,
"business, personal, this is nothing.
"I've survived everything else.
I'm going to survive this."
And I kept asking him, "Are you going to quit the race?"
"There's no chance I quit," he said.
"Not one chance.
I am in this to the end."
>> NARRATOR: Donald Trump, undaunted, then headed
to the second presidential debate.
>> He showed up, and he was impervious to the naysayers
and critics who were all trying to push him out of the race.
>> NARRATOR: Trump had a surprise of his own
just before the debate was to begin.
>> Next thing I know-- and no one in the press knew
this was happening-- there was a press conference
with all Bill Clinton's accusers right before the debate.
>> These four very courageous women have asked to be here...
>> NARRATOR: Trump had invited four women to the debate,
women who had accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing.
Charges the Clinton's had denied.
>> There was widespread shock.
Nobody had it beforehand.
>> The genius part of Donald Trump was he didn't announce
these women were coming.
He just had them at a table and said,
"The media's welcome to come in right before the debate."
And the media was stunned.
Because the media couldn't fathom
doing something like this.
>> NARRATOR: Standing in the back of the room,
the man who had orchestrated the event: Steve Bannon.
>> Mr. Trump may have said some bad words,
but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me.
I don't think there's any comparison.
>> It was to show America that he believed certain things
about the Clintons that many Americans also believe.
And that he was going to stand up for them
against the Clintons
in a way that was so tough and really so ruthless
that it gave some satisfaction to people who hate the Clintons.
>> Okay. Thank you all very much.
We appreciate it.
>> By bringing the accusers to the debate, he put that issue
front and center and forced voters out there to remember,
in a sense, what it is that they didn't like
about Hillary Clinton.
>> NARRATOR: This time on the debate stage, Trump stayed
on the offensive.
>> We have a divided nation, because people like her.
And believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart.
She's got tremendous hatred and this country cannot take
another four years of Barack Obama
and that's what you're getting with her.
>> I don't think there was any moment in the campaign
in which there was a more divergent interpretation
among political professionals and members
of Trump's vast and growing army of supporters.
>> When you talk about apology,
I think the one that you should really be apologizing for
and the thing that you should be apologizing for
are the 33,000 emails that you deleted,
and that you acid washed.
>> Hillary Clinton, who is clearly much more measured
and programmed than Trump.
On the other hand, he's so much more of a live wire,
that by contrast she seems overly programmed.
>> Allow her to respond, please.
>> Personal emails, not official.
>> 33,000?
>> Well, we turned over 35,000, so...
>> Oh yeah, what about the other 15,000?
>> Please allow her to respond,
she didn't talk while you talked.
>> Yes, that's true, I didn't.
>> Because you had nothing to say.
>> I didn't in the first debate and I'm going to try not...
>> He's mocked for this during and after the debate,
kind of stalking around that debate, kind of stalking her.
He's, you know, ridiculed for suggesting that he's going
to put her in jail.
>> If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general
to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,
because there has never been so many lies, so much deception,
there has never been anything like it.
>> When he looked her straight in the eye and said that,
"There should be a commission to study the crimes you've done."
And to my surprise my focus group said, "Absolutely."
Even those who supported Hillary Clinton want to see
these candidates held accountable.
>> We have to move on, Secretary Clinton you can respond,
but we've got to move on.
>> We want to give the audience a chance here.
>> So, for what the media saw
as Third World dictatorial politics, our voters saw
as one candidate holding the other candidate accountable.
>> It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament
of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.
>> Because you'd be in jail.
>> We want to remind the audience to please not talk
out loud, please do not applaud, you're just wasting time.
>> When I speak, I go out and speak,
the people of this country are furious...
>> He was speaking the language of the American people.
That he was holding Hillary Clinton accountable.
You wouldn't know that if you lived in New York
or Los Angeles, but you would know that
if you were doing focus groups in Columbus, Ohio,
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
>> NARRATOR: Back out on the campaign trail
Trump's anti-establishment message continued to resonate.
>> And we are going to drain the swamp.
We're going to drain the swamp.
We're going to drain the swamp, folks.
>> That was how Donald Trump started out the campaign.
>> We're going to drain that swamp.
>> By saying things that were anathema
to the establishment, but that had resonance
in the base of support that he was able to cobble together.
>> Build the wall!
Build the wall! Build the wall!
>> Yes, maybe he has offended me, and maybe he's offensive,
but I'm still out of work.
I'm still mad that people are pouring over the borders.
And I'm still mad that ISIS is still attacking people
all over the globe.
And you know what, I'm just going to stick with him.
>> NARRATOR: With time running out, Trump's chances of winning
still seemed slim.
But the race would be shaken up by an unlikely source:
>> Breaking news here.
Wikileaks is about to release "significant material"
tied to Hillary Clinton.
>> The campaign is doing damage control tonight
after Wikileaks releases more...
>> NARRATOR: Tens of thousands of private emails
from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were released.
>> There are some embarrassing details...
>> This was a daily phenomenon.
>> Both at home and abroad in all of this...
>> It was a constant, uh, you know, pain to our campaign.
>> ...flood of emails suggest that in private
her advisors like to tee off on everyone,
from Catholics to Latinos and Southerners...
>> NARRATOR: Day after day, the stories continued.
>> That she couldn't convey a clear message to voters...
>> It was incredibly damaging,
because every day there were bad stories coming out.
And they could be perfectly timed.
>> Robby Mook lashed out writing,
"Wow, what a terrorist."
>> It was anxiety provoking.
You just don't know what's going to come out on any day.
And that you're going to have to deal with that.
>> More than 2,000 emails...
They claim they came from her...
>> NARRATOR: The first emails began to trickle out
less than an hour after the Access Hollywood video.
>> The Access Hollywood tape was a big surge
but then, you know, after it had run 400 times
on television it fell off.
The Podesta emails kept getting dribbled out
news cycle after news cycle
after news cycle, and it lives forever.
>> NARRATOR: There were media reports
that intelligence agencies believed the leaks
were orchestrated by Russia.
But that didn't seem to bother Trump.
>> Wikileaks is amazing.
The stuff that's coming out.
It shows she's a real liar.
This Wikileaks stuff is unbelievable,
it tells you the inner heart, you got to read it.
Wikileaks, I love WikiLeaks.
>> NARRATOR: After the election,
intelligence agencies would go further, concluding
that the leaks were part of a larger campaign
ordered by Russian president Vladimir Putin
to help elect Donald Trump.
>> It was cyber mixed with information warfare
and the press, the New York Times included,
became the handmaiden to the process,
because these emails couldn't be ignored as news.
They were newsy. They were out there.
It's not like you could ignore it and not write about it.
But in writing about it,
you're doing the work that Vladimir Putin had in mind.
>> NARRATOR: Then in the final days as Hillary Clinton
struggled to hold onto her lead, another crisis.
>> An L.A. Times reporter came up
to our traveling press secretary, Nick Merrill,
and said, "Hey, have you heard anything about some reopening
of the investigation by the F.B.I.?"
>> I kept thinking this can't be, this has to be a mistake.
It's got to be referring to something else.
>> NARRATOR: The F.B.I. director, James Comey,
was resuming an investigation of Clinton's personal email server.
>> And I just remember this pit in my stomach
and really worrying
that this could change the game completely,
in a, you know, in a potentially lethal way.
>> NARRATOR: Mook and Palmieri briefed Clinton.
>> When I went to tell her, I said, "I've got some news."
And she said, "Okay, what's your news?"
And I said, "It's bad news."
So, um, she said, "Okay, what's the bad news?"
And so I told her.
And she said, "I knew we weren't going three weeks
without something else hitting us."
>> That pit in my stomach, you know, I'll never forget
that feeling, that, um, we just got smacked
by a two-by-four and it came out of nowhere.
>> NARRATOR: Donald Trump immediately seized on the news.
>> I need to open
with a very critical breaking news announcement.
(crowd cheering)
The F.B.I. has just sent a letter to Congress,
informing them that they have discovered
new emails pertaining to the former secretary of state,
Hillary Clinton's, investigation.
(crowd cheering)
>> Lock her up!
Lock her up! Lock her up!
(cheering continues)
>> And they are reopening the case into her criminal
and illegal conduct that threatens
the security of the United States of America.
(crowd shouting)
>> To win you need a few breaks.
The F.B.I. announcement was such a break,
certainly not controlled by the Trump campaign,
but it really did throw all the cards up in the air
at a pivotal time.
>> We are going to drain the swamp.
>> NARRATOR: For the next week and a half...
>> We are going to re-negotiate...
>> NARRATOR: Trump traveled the country
building on that momentum.
>> And we will keep radical Islamic terrorists...
>> NARRATOR: Staying on message...
>> ...the hell out...
>> NARRATOR: Off Twitter...
>> We will build a great wall.
>> NARRATOR: Inside his campaign they hoped it would be enough.
>> And we will make America great again.
>> It was the first time that Mr. Trump was relatively
scandal-free at that point.
A lot of things had gone away.
Secretary Clinton was in the spotlight by herself.
And we saw a spike in numbers
that were just uncommon for anything that we've seen before.
That was really the catalyst for the roll, the snowball effect
that continued to happen till Election Day.
>> NARRATOR: In the final days of the campaign,
he solidified the Republican base and in rally after rally,
he tried to win over voters in the heart of the blue wall,
states a Republican hadn't won in a generation.
>> In all these steel towns that have carcasses of factories,
buildings where they used to have molten metal, no more.
But you know what was there?
Trump signs.
>> Today is decision day in America and we are taking a look
at the presidential race...
>> After a long, contentious presidential race
we are near the end...
>> Donald Trump will carry the state of Florida
with its 29 electoral...
>> Donald Trump has won the state of Wisconsin,
and there goes her blue wall.
>> This means that Donald Trump will be the 45th president
of the United States.
>> NARRATOR: As a candidate, he had broken all the rules.
Now in the White House, he promises to do the same.
>> You guys need to get used to it that there is no pivot,
that there is no normal, and the fact that there is no normal
is the new normal.
The only thing that is predictable
is the unpredictability of Washington, D.C.,
from this point forward.
So get used to it.
Buckle your seat belts, sit back, because it is going to be
a wild ride.
>> From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
>> On the front line of Iraq's fight against ISIS.
>> The distance between war and civilian life
is almost nonexistent.
>> Correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is inside
the besieged city of Mosul.
>> This is the other entrance of the building.
>> Witnessing firsthand the casualties
and the army's determination to take the city back.
"Battle for Iraq."
>> Go to,
where you can read extended interviews
with Kellyanne Conway...
>> Which we don't need to lose.
You should be winning.
>> John Podesta...
>> Pain to our campaign...
>> And others.
>> ...incredibly damaging.
>> I'm all in.
>> Explore an interactive feature on the film
with primary sources, video and additional context
in collaboration with Duke University.
Connect to the Frontline community
on Facebook and Twitter.
Then sign up for our newsletter at
>> For more on this and other Frontline programs,
visit our website at
>> Frontline's "Trump's Road to the White House"
is available on DVD.
To order, visit or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
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Trump's Road to the White House (full film) | FRONTLINE

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EZ Wang published on May 15, 2017
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