President Donald Trump huddled Wednesday with Fox News host Sean Hannity and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, according to two people familiar with the plans, a meeting that was originally set to discuss midterm strategy.
The meeting took place at the White House as Trump prepares a four week push to help Republicans keep control of Congress. Gingrich, who led the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, penned an expansive memo for the president detailing how to hold onto majorities in the Senate and the House, one of the people familiar with the plans said.
The former speaker is best known as the architect of the “Contract with America,” the government-shrinking rubric that was a key part of the GOP’s successful midterm strategy that year, when the Republicans picked up 54 House seats and eight seats in the Senate during President Bill Clinton’s first term. One of the pillars of that approach was having candidates unite behind a national message rather than focus on individual races. Reached for comment on the meeting, Gingrich hung up the phone.
Hannity is a friend and informal adviser to Trump who has defended the president amid controversy, and though he frequently offers on-air advice to the White House, he is rarely spotted on the White House campus. He remained in Washington on Wednesday to broadcast his primetime show live from Fox’s D.C. studios.
During a press conference in New York City last week, the president downplayed Hannity’s influence on his thinking, even while praising his coverage of the administration. “Believe it or not, I don’t speak to him very much,” Trump said. “But I respect him.”
In an email statement to POLITICO, Hannity said: “When Politico provides me details and copies of their schedules, I will consider offering mine.”
In July, Trump hired Hannity’s longtime friend and former executive producer, Bill Shine, as White House communications director, formalizing the ties between the administration and the network.