Ex-Senator Victor Crist Provides an Insider’s View of the American Nomination Hopefuls

Super Tuesday 2016, one of the most important days of the presidential nominations contest, was held on March 1st with more than 10 states holding primary elections and caucuses. The result was that Donald Trump won seven states while Hillary Clinton won eight.

On March 2nd, we sat talking with Mr. Victor Crist, a former member of the Florida Senate.


Thank you for joining us today, Victor.

Viewing the Primary Process

Q. What do you think of the outcome of this year’s Super Tuesday?

A. I think that the results of what’s to be is still yet to come as we move through the process here in the United States. Each state has a different calendar of election cycles. As we get closer to Super Tuesday, it’s beginning to look a little closer to having a smaller choice of candidates.


Q. Trump won seven states. What did you think about this?

A. Donald Trump has been an amazing candidate. Surprising, I think, most everyone out there. He has built a strong campaign base and has developed a lot of momentum, most especially with young people, and non-traditional voters. College students and younger professionals love him, and are coming out and voting strongly for him. Normally these people don’t usually vote in the United States. They’re generally apprehensive and too busy in their social lives. But Trump is pulling them out to vote.


The Trump Momentum and His Public Charisma

Q. I see. Trump has not received favorable press coverage so far. Then why is he so popular among the public?

A. Well, there’s a lot of speculation, but I think everyone would agree it’s the current time here in this country. In the United States strong record of success with business and with economy, and people feel safe with that. In addition with the fear of terrorism and the tremendous influx of refugees, Trump’s hard stance and firmness and aggressiveness also provides people with a sense of security. So I think most people would agree that he provides a feeling of safeness, of security, whether economically or physically.


Q. The Japanese media says that although Trump is attracting support from the public, many Japanese people don’t seem to like him. What do you think?

A. I think it takes a lot of a person and their family and of their friends to put their lives on hold to run for political office, and I think just the fact that this man who has such a successful life, and a happy life, would be willing to step out and fight for what he believes in, and take the criticism, and take the pressure, and pay for it all out of his own pocket, is incredible. It clearly shows the commitment that he has for what he wants to get done, and no other candidate can possibly compare to that.


Q. Victor, do you support him?

A. I am a Republican, and early on I supported Jeb Bush, because he had the most experience, and I thought was the most balanced of the candidates, and I know him personally. But now that Jeb Bush is out of the race, I have not come on board publically with any candidate as of yet. Privately today I voted for Trump, but I have not come out publically yet on his behalf. I like Donald Trump. I think he’s a strong leader and a quality candidate.


Trump vs. The Other Frontrunners: What Is His Popularity?

Q. What is it that Trump has, but other candidates like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio do not?

A. Senator Cruz from Texas is the most conservative of the candidates, and probably the one candidate that is best liked by the Christian Evangelicals, which are the Christian faith-based conservatives. He quotes a lot from the Bible and from Scriptures, and he talks a lot about the issues that are important primarily to the Christian conservative populous. He’s a good man, but his politics are not mainstream, are not where the majority of American’s are today.

Marco Rubio I know very well. I know him personally. I worked with him for eight years in the Florida legislature. I question his lack of ethics. I question his lack of administrative experience. I question his position on many issues that I have seen flip back and forth on. He is nowhere near the quality of a candidate of the other two.

There is a fourth candidate, the former Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. He has administrative experience, but he has not the aggressive, success record that Donald Trump has. While he’s a quality candidate, again, he is nowhere near the quality that Donald Trump is.


Q. As you mentioned before, Trump is a successful person, which has captivated the public sentiment. Now he is running for the presidency, and this shows that he has a strong determination. Does the fact that Americans give so much support to him mean that some big change is taking place in how they think?

A. The general public has lost trust for their elected officials. They view Donald Trump not as an elected official, not as a politician, but as a real human being, a successful life story businessman with a proven, proven track record of accomplishments. People want change; they want success; they want deliverables, but most of all they want to believe that their leaders can get the job done. Everyone knows that Donald Trump gets things done.


How Has Current President Obama Influenced the Republican Race?

Q. I see. Do many Americans think that President Obama is all talk, and has not produced results?

A. I understand the gist of what you are saying, and you know when Obama first ran for office eight years ago, he came on board and talked about change, but he never told anybody what that change would be, or what he would deliver. Now eight years later we’ve seen change, and we don’t like what we see: a failed economy, you know borders wide open, or non-documented immigrants who pour into the country, crime rates rising, the job rates dropping – you know things have not been good under Obama. So people want change, and Donald Trump is telling them what his change will be, and you know that is what people want to hear.


Q. Trump runs a business. He himself often says that he is a top executive. It is considered to be very important for business managers to achieve results. So I think that the public trust in a business executive like him is a major reason behind the growing support for him.

A. Well when you look at the United States, the United States, the general philosophy is about economic freedom. And it’s about economic growth. And it’s about business. And it’s about sufficiency. Trump has been very proven successful in all those areas. He has delivered, even though it has been to himself and his shareholders, he still has accomplished and delivered. Few other candidates can say that, or prove that. And the public is enchanted, and in love with the idea of having someone with that kind of success record running the country. If you can run a good business, then you ought to be able to run a good country. And that’s what most people are thinking.


Will There Be a Wall Built: The Issue of Illegal Immigration

Q. Trump has proposed that he would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which has become hot topic in Japan. What do you think about his assertion?

A. Well, I think what’s important is that we are beginning to seriously look at the issue. There’s many ways to address a problem, and the problem of the illegal immigration occurring between Mexico and the United States cannot solely be fixed by a higher wall. We’re going to need to go into Mexico and continue to help build their economy, because if there are jobs in Mexico, and there is an opportunity for growth and success in Mexico, the Mexican residents would prefer to stay home, and not have to sneak across the border. So, you know, the wall is something that is temporary. Working to improve Mexico’s economy, as our closest neighbor, could be a permanent, long-term fix.


Trump vs. Hillary: Who Wins?

Q. Could Trump beat Hillary Clinton?

A. I think that there, and again as my personal speculation as a long-term elected official, my personal speculation is that Donald Trump’s original plan was to get into the race and be the spoiler like Ross Perot was, you know, sixteen years ago, or actually twenty-six years ago. And actually I think Trump originally was getting into the race to shrink the Republican support so that Hillary could win. But after campaigning and after being actively involved in running for President, I think he has changed his mind, and now he really wants to be President himself, and he’s putting everything he has into making that happen. At the end of the day, at the last hour, if it’s Trump vs. Clinton, I think it’s going to be very, very close.


Will America Change if Trump Becomes President and How Will Relations With Japan Change?

Q. If Trump becomes President, how will the U.S. change?

A. The United States will continue to move forward as it has. One man, you know, doesn’t change the world, but a basic philosophy and a culture will begin to change. We’ll be seeing, probably, the reduction of government, and the growth of free enterprise. We’ll most likely see a much stronger economy, and a more aggressive military. We’ll probably see a little more infighting among the politicians initially, but I think very quickly they will learn that the public wants change, and they will change with it. So at the end of it all, Donald Trump will move the United States forward with change – change for more productive, more secure and safer future.


Q. I see. President Obama said that U.S. will no longer be the world’s policeman, and adopted big-government policies. Would the U.S. drastically change its direction?

A. It will be a complete shifting of the pendulum, going from left all the way to the right, and what will happen is we will go from one extreme of near socialism to a far extreme of pure capitalism, and over the next eight years what will happen is something in between. And what happens in between will be the best part.


Q. I think that the U.S. and Japan serve as pillars of peace and economic prosperity of the world. If Trump becomes President, how will this affect Japan-U.S. relationship?

A. Japan, as I know it, is a country very similar to America where the economy has fluctuated, and the residents and the voters rely on the businesses to grow and flourish to have meaningful jobs and careers. I think our people are very similar in those aspects, and I think Trump’s desire to grow the economy of the United States will be a good thing for Japan and all of our allies around the world. I think that we will all share in the successes. Another point to consider with Trump is, unlike the other candidates, he is not a religious driven candidate. He is a business driven candidate. So under Trump I believe there will be a whole lot more religious freedom and opportunity.


Looking Ahead

Q. Victor, what do you think the chances are of Trump becoming President?

A. I think he wins the primary as he has been winning it, you know better than 2 to 3 to 1. I think going into a general election, if it’s Trump vs. Hillary, it’s going to be very close, and so close that I’m not sure which one will win. Hillary is very popular, especially among women. And you know Trump is popular especially among young people. Hillary is popular with older people. Both of them are going to be very strong candidates, and it’s going to be very, very close. I don’t think either one will win by more than 2%.


Q. Please let me ask one more question. What will happen if Hillary becomes President?

A. Well let’s put it this way, I like Trump; my wife like’s Hillary. Can you translate that? (Laughter) Hillary Clinton is much more rooted and grounded than a. And I believe that she learned from Obama’s mistakes and her husband, Bill Clinton’s, mistakes. Being a women, and if elected the first woman, American President, she would have to do the very best job she could do, and I think she would be very cautious, and she would try to work with both conservatives and liberals, republican’s and democrat’s to try to build consensus. I think she would be much more moderate than most of my colleagues would predict. But if given a choice, I personally prefer Donald Trump. I think that his proven track record in the business sector, I think the fact that he is a change from the norm, that he is so popular among young people that we have a chance to make an aggressive step forward with Trump.

I have to be careful with what I say about Hillary Clinton because I don’t want to anger my wife – an unhappy wife is an unhappy household (laughter)!

Interviewer: I understand! Okay. Thank you very much, Victor.

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Ex-Senator Victor Crist Provides an Insider’s View of the American Nomination Hopefuls
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