After the second presidential debate in October, not long after a leaked “Access Hollywood” tape seemed poised to crush Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations, few pundits maintained he could win.
Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier on Friday recalled an exception — LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham.
“I think the ‘Access Hollywood’ thing had just happened. And you said, ‘It’s gonna happen.’ And you were right.”
“I tell people to this day, the second debate, we had a drink after the debate, you said, ‘He’s going to win,’” Baier said Friday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.” “And at that point, he was the furthest away he was from a sense that he was going to win. I think the ‘Access Hollywood’ thing had just happened. And you said, ‘It’s gonna happen.’ And you were right.”
It wasn’t just pundits who were bearish on Trump. The leaked “Access Hollywood” tape that showed Trump lewdly discussing women prompted prominent Republicans across the country to abandon him in droves. Republicans who were on the fence announced they would not vote for him, and GOP elected officials were scrambling to reverse their endorsements.
Meanwhile, Democrat Hillary Clinton was expanding her lead in the polls and well-known political prognosticators were rating her victory as a near-certainly.
Trump, of course, went on to shock the country in November. His comeback was the culmination of 18 months of overcoming doubters and naysayers. Baier recalled doubts from the moment Trump descended an escalator at Trump Tower to announce his improbable candidacy.
The skepticism persisted even as Trump climbed in the polls.
“As we evolved, you suddenly got this sense that Trump was picking up steam every time, and no one still believed it,” he said. “Even on the panel [of Fox News contributors] … they just couldn’t believe it.”
Baier told Ingraham that he played golf with Trump about a year before the campaign started. Baier, who played the sport in college, was matched with another good golfer against a pair that included Trump. Baier said he and his partner were up by five strokes, and he turned to Trump and asked if he wanted to renegotiate the terms of their $5 bet.
Trump declined and went on to seal a comeback win by sinking a 45-foot putt on the last hole. Baier said Trump gloated that it would be a “really quiet ride back to the clubhouse.” Trump referenced that day toward the end of the presidential campaign.
“He said, ‘Bret, I’m going to win Michigan; I promise,'” Baier said. “And I said, ‘How do you know that?’ And he’s like, ‘Remember that golf cart ride to the clubhouse?'”