GOP ‘King of Dirty Tricks’ on RNC’s Plan to Stop Trump
Depending on whom you talk to, Roger Stone, the veteran GOP strategist and consigliere to a long line of Republicans, most recently Donald Trump, could be one of the sleaziest operatives in American politics, or the most effective. He has played a role in no fewer than nine presidential campaigns, starting with Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election bid, where he cut his teeth “trafficking in the black arts,” as he’s put it. He’s lobbied for casino operators, consulted with Ukrainian politicians, was instrumental in stopping the 2000 Florida recount in Miami by orchestrating an angry mob of Republicans in pinstriped suits, and helped destroy the career of Eliot Spitzer by exposing his relationship with a prostitute. He has been described, in consistently unflattering terms, as, among other things: the “king of dirty tricks,” a “self-admitted hit man for the GOP,” the “boastful black prince of Republican sleaze” and “a little rat” — albeit one with a closet full of bespoke suits who drives a sleek silver Jaguar, one of six he has owned.
“I like them ’cause they’re sexy,” he tells me on a recent balmy Saturday afternoon in South Florida, where he has lived for 15 years. Stone, whose frequently outré tweets — he recently called CNN commentator Ana Navarro “dumber than dogshit” — have gotten him banned from two of the three major cable news channels, spends a good portion of lunch talking about this situation, which he describes as “Nazi-like” (and then notes that the left doesn’t have a monopoly on Nazi references). But he moves on to discussing virtually every facet of contemporary politics as he eases the Jag into the driveway of his office, which is housed in a faceless mini-industrial district. The three-room space offers a visual archive of the past 40 years of American politics, dominated by Richard Nixon. Nixon, in fact, is everywhere: on wall posters, portraits, hand puppets, salt and pepper shakers, ping-pong paddles, rolling papers. There are Nixon bongs. There’s a Nixon hash pipe. “There’s a project I’m working on in Northern California where some friends and I have our licenses and permits for a strain of marijuana called ‘Tricky Dick.’ You smoke it, you immediately become paranoid and want to go to a Chinese restaurant,” he jokes. Stone is very charming — which, of course, is part of the game. “Be nice to me,” he says. “Write something that makes me look bad, they’ll find your body — or rather, they won’t find it.”
Talk to me about how the dark art of political attacks and dirty tricks have changed since you entered politics.
Well, some tactics are pretty much the same then as now. I mean, 200 years ago, Andrew Jackson’s rivals printed handbills that accused Jackson’s wife of bigamy. Now, the National Enquirer says that Ted Cruz had five mistresses. What’s changed politics is technology — it’s made it much easier to disseminate information.
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