DNC Committeeman: Trump ‘Most Unstable and Unprepared Candidate in Modern Presidential Politics’

The roster of media mavens, moguls and boldface names spotted today at Michael's.

lunch at michaelsI knew I’d have plenty to talk about at this week’s ‘Lunch’ with passionate politicos Joan Gelman and Democratic National Committeeman Robert Zimmerman. Both are headed to the Democratic National Convention in a few weeks. Joan will be producing Joan Hamburg’s WABC radio show from Philadelphia and Robert will be rallying the faithful, while no doubt serving up the dead-on soundbites for the cable networks that have made him the go-to guy on all things relating to the party.

Diane Clehane and Melinda Henneberger
Robert Zimmerman, Diane Clehane and Joan Gelman

Joan arrived first and we talked about the challenges of covering what is sure to be one of the most media-centric conventions ever. “It’s a gold mine for booking,” said Joan, between bites of salmon tartare. Top among her dream guests: Elizabeth Warren (“She’s fabulous”) and Joe Biden (“Everyone respects him.”)

Of course the person attracting the most media attention at the convention besides Hillary Clinton will undoubtedly be her tireless challenger Bernie Sanders, whose endgame has been both bewildering and enraging (depending on who you ask) to Clinton supporters. Joan left little doubt where she stands on Senator Sanders’ reluctance to cede the spotlight and rally his supporters behind the presumptive nominee. “It’s absurd and absolutely selfish,” she told me. “We’re going to have a president and it’s going to be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Time to get on board. It’s no longer about you.” Got that?

When Robert arrived (he’s got a very full plate these days helming his marketing-advertising firm, Zimmerman/Edelson, now in its 26th year, in addition to his political work) it was clear he’s fired up about the Democratic convention because of his firm belief that the event is much more than entertainment for political junkies (more on that later) and plays an important role in electing a president. “Conventions do have a role in the process because it’s when the country stops and listens to what the candidate are saying. They unveil to the country what the parties and candidates represent.”

And that, as we all know, is where things are going to get very interesting this year.

Robert told me he is unconcerned about today’s polls, which once again put Clinton and Trump in a statistical dead heat. “No matter who you are supporting for president, you can a find a poll to support [that candidate].” But, he admitted, “It’s going to be a very competitive race.” He dismissed the ongoing investigation into Clinton’s emails and her role in Benghazi as having any negative effect on her campaign. “The Republicans continue to try to exploit [those stories] and the country has rejected it.”

“Hillary as a candidate is standing out especially now because we need stable, strong leadership for the challenges ahead.” Trump “doesn’t have political policies, he’s got tweets,” said Robert, as he tucked into his mini-lobster rolls. “He’s the most unstable and unprepared candidate in modern presidential politics.” Robert pointed to the news that Republicans like Hank Paulson and Brent Scowcroft have jumped ship and announced their support for Clinton as evidence of “a coalition of leading Republicans coming together [with Democrats] for the sake of the country.”

Robert was mum on the specifics about what viewers can expect when watching the Democratic convention, but assured me whatever “entertainment” or star power that’s in the mix will no doubt be “inspiring.” Having not taken out a loan to see Hamilton, we’re intrigued by that rumor that creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda might be making an appearance on stage.

Robert said that reports that The Apprentice producer Mark Burnett, who helped turn Trump into a television star, is working on glitzing things up is evidence that “Republicans are using a reality show theme” for the convention. All of this is no surprise, because, he noted, “Within the Republican party you have 44 percent of registered Republicans who believe the president is a secret Muslim. Duck Dynasty is a think tank for those people.”