The Andy Richter Theory of Donald Trump: It's All a Reality Show
"It's not going to end well," the veteran TV personality says of the GOP frontrunner's campaign. "Trump will crash and burn, I think. There's just not enough savvy in terms of keeping things together in him."
Andy Richter is not a fan of Donald Trump, but he does have a theory as to why the GOP presidential candidate has had so much success thus far this election season: He's running a reality show, not a campaign.
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the late-night talk show announcer/sidekick of Conan O'Brien says he doesn't mind sharing his opinion on the election season. After all, Richter is already vocal over social media whether people want to read his opinions or not, he says with a chuckle.
"It's easy to say 'Who cares what a talk show sidekick thinks of politics?' and you could certainly say that is a legitimate point," he tells THR.
But Richter has more than 744,700 Twitter followers, so how can he resist? "Everybody gets to say something. And I am certainly not a constitutional scholar or anything, but I am a voter, and I am a pretty actively involved voter."
That said, Richter loathes Trump and says he highly doubts the billionaire businessman will ever be president.
"It's not going to end well," Richter tells THR. "Trump will crash and burn, I think. There's just not enough savvy in terms of keeping things together in him. He has a lot of savvy in stirring shit up. But eventually he's going to have to keep things together, and I don't think he has that kind of savvy."
The 69-year-old real estate mogul has been leading in the polls pretty much from the moment he announced his GOP bid for the White House, and Richter, a late-night TV personality for more than 20 years, says he has a pretty good idea why.
"I felt early on in Trump's campaign that the reason he seemed to be getting so much traction is that he wasn't running for president; he was producing a television show about a guy running for president," Richter contends. "People running for president [in years past] have tried to run their campaign like a television show, making it interesting. And [Trump] came in and said, 'Why are you running it like a TV show? It is a TV show! Just say whatever you want. Don't worry about issues. Most people don't even give a shit about issues. Just say what they want to hear, be the most interesting guy, pick fights — everyone loves a fight. ' This is all well within his wheelhouse."
Richter's reality–TV show notion about Trump is more than speculation.
"I know Trump has been on the phone with TV [producers] and said, 'Did you see the debate? What did you think?' " Richter says. "He wasn't calling Washington think tanks. He's calling TV people, because he's running a show."
And Trump certainly knows what an audience wants to see. He was, after all, host of the NBC reality show The Apprentice for 14 seasons. (He has since been replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
Even now, when watching the GOP debates, Richter says he tunes in for sheer entertainment because Trump's model is working.
"I did [during the last debate] have the feeling of, 'Boy, when they're not fighting and he's not insulting stuff, these are really dull. I wish Trump would say something again. I wish he would make fun of somebody. I wish he would pick on someone's appearance.'" Richter says, mimicking his inner thoughts in a quiet tone. "And that's not healthy. That's not good. But here I am, getting sucked into it."
Richter didn't always have such disdain for Trump, he says. Trump even appeared on Conan's show in years past.
"I used to have no opinion one way or the other about Donald Trump," Richter says. "I thought he was just kind of a blustering, cartoonish real estate guy from New York. But when he started with the birtherism stuff against President Obama. … I just felt like, this is a bad person."
Richter joins the growing number of Hollywood personalities who have voiced their opinion one way or the other this election season, including Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Danny DeVito, Jon Voight, Mike Tyson, John Legend and Lena Dunham, among numerous others.
Richter — who has never shied away from political issues important to him, including gun control and women's reproductive rights — tells THR he gets it: Not everyone in the entertainment industry wants to put themselves out there, politics-wise, and that's OK. In fact, it's probably for the best.
"If every single actor on every television show and in every movie started to use every camera and microphone as an opportunity to talk about how they're voting for president, people would get real sick of that real quick," Richter says. "And I think the general reaction to that — and I can speak for myself — would be, 'Who gives a shit?' If [celebrities] feel it? They should say it."
Richter speaks his mind, and no one's holding him back. "I don't have anyone [manager or publicist] telling me not to say stuff," he says. And even if they did, he has a pithy response: "I would tell them to f— off."
Richter's candidate is Hillary Clinton. And while he has been low-key about the pick in order to avoid "hassle," he has no qualms about his decision, he says.
"She is very much an imperfect candidate and very much a flawed person," he contends. "And there are lots of things that she's done that I am not crazy about, and there's positions that she's taken that I've disagreed with, like voting for the Iraq war. She f—ed up, but we only know she f—ed up in hindsight, truly."
Still, Clinton is the best person for the job, Richter maintains.
"No other woman has been further than she is. And if you think that a woman can come as far as she has and have the political experience that she has without getting some mud on her, you are kidding yourself. Because the only reason she is in this proximity to power is because she's played games with powerful people," Richter says. "And there will be something extremely powerful in not just having a woman but this particular woman in the White House, and I believe that."