Jared Kushner has widely been reputed as the brains behind father-in-law Donald Trump’s successful bid for the presidency. And for the first time since the campaign began, he’s talked to the press in an exclusive interview with Forbes Magazine.
1. Kushner Might Be the Reason Trump Won
“Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources,” Eric Schmidt, the head of Google, told Forbes. Added Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and the candidate’s principal booster in the tech world, “it’s hard to overstate and hard to summarize Jared’s role in the campaign.”
Talking to Forbes, both Silicon Valley giants were praising Kushner for his design of the campaign’s digital strategy, which allowed it to advertise on the cheap to millions of voters voters in battleground states through promos on social media and e-mail. The same methods helped the Trump camp raise considerable sums of money to keep pace with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote,” Kushner told Forbes, using the finance industry term “return on investment.” “I asked, How can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?” His operation made use of the latest techniques in corporate advertising, like machine learning and micro-targeting. Kushner learned about these methods through his interactions with Silicon Valley executives, who talked him through the ins-and-outs of digital marketing.
2. No Hard Feelings for Chris Christie
Kushner rebutted accusations that bad history with Governor Chris Christie — who put his father Charles Kushner in prison as a federal prosecutor — had been the cause of the New Jersey executive’s removal from the transition effort, which he once headed. “Six months ago Governor Christie and I decided this election was much bigger than any differences we may have had in the past, and we worked very well together,” he related to Forbes. “The media has speculated on a lot of different things, and since I don’t talk to the press, they go as they go, but I was not behind pushing out him or his people,” he added.
3. Trump Isn’t Anti-Semitic, He Promised
He also denied charges of anti-Semitism leveled at his father-in-law, whom he said was the opposite of a bigot. “I’m not going to start thinking that this person’s a terrible person or disassociating myself, when my empirical data and experience is a lot more informed than many of the people casting these judgments,” he told Forbes about the allegations directed at Trump. He continued, “I just know a lot of the things that people try to attack him with are just not true or overblown or exaggerations… If the country gives him a chance, they’ll find he won’t tolerate hateful rhetoric or behavior.”
4. He Won’t Say If He’ll Join the Administration
Kushner was mum on whether he would serve the administration in an official capacity, which could be complicated by existing anti-nepotism laws. “There’s a lot of people who have been asking me to get involved in a more official capacity,” he told the magazine. “I just have to think about what that means for my family, for my business and make sure it’d be the right thing for a multitude of reasons.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.