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This is the first in an ongoing series of one-on-ones with the political pundits who have been at the forefront of the cable-news conversations this election season.
Ana Navarro’s ability to let loose a perfectly timed zinger and also challenge Republican orthodoxy, especially on issues of immigration and same-sex marriage, have made her a favorite of the political TV media. She emigrated with her parents from Nicaragua in 1980, when she was 8 years old. Her father was politically active and opposed the rise of the Sandinistas. She first rose to prominence as a TV pundit during the 2012 campaigns, when she supported Utah governor Jon Huntsman. But the vituperative 2016 campaign has made her a star as she rails against the candidacy of Donald Trump. She has called him a “vile bigot,” “swamp thing” and “crazy orange man with an unidentifiable furry object on his head ranting into the wind.”
Current residence: Miami
Education: University of Miami (BA), St. Thomas University (JD)
Political persuasion: Centrist Conservatism
Political experience: Worked in the administration of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (1999); adviser on the presidential campaigns of John McCain (2008) and Jon Huntsman (2012)
Networks: Political commentator, CNN; Contributor, ABC News, Telemundo
Viral moment: Oct. 7, the day Trump’s Access Hollywood hot mic tape leaked, Navarro used “pussy,” the same vulgar term Trump used on the tape, during a discussion on CNN. Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes protested: “Will you please stop saying that word? My daughter is listening.” Navarro’s retort: “Don’t tell me you’re offended when I say ‘pussy,’ but you’re not offended when Donald Trump says it.”
How has this election changed your life?
It hasn’t really changed my life so much right now. Producers are calling and big agents are calling. But I’m pretty much the same person doing the same thing. I’m in the midst of the final stretch of the election. So it’s hard to think about much other than getting through the next 18 days.
How do you deal with the haters on social media?
I am strangely unaffected by it. All I can do right now is keep myself from falling off the hamster wheel before the election. I really haven’t had time to think about what has happened. I’ve been saying the same things about Donald Trump for 18 months. Finally the rest of the folks caught up. I’m just being me.
What will you do after the election?
I really don’t think that way. I try to be very aware of opportunities as they arise. But I don’t sit around staring at my navel and thinking about my brand development.
Are you surprised that Trump got all the way to the Republican nomination?
I exhausted my ability to be surprised with Donald Trump about 12 months ago. I think he’s been the perfect storm of a candidate: media savvy; 100 percent name recognition; had money to float his campaign for the first months when he had no donors. Nobody took him seriously. He was running against 16 other people who were trampling over each other’s messages while he had a pretty clean niche. He was able to recognize the movement of people frustrated with Washington dysfunction. And he did to that movement what he does with buildings; he put his name on it. He didn’t inspire that movement, he just claimed it when everybody else wasn’t even acknowledging it existed. And most importantly, if Donald Trump had not been a TV celebrity, I don’t think he would be where he is today. He has been judged all along as the jerk host of The Apprentice we all got to know. Donald Trump has said at least 50 things that would have killed the campaign of any mortal politician. But he gets judged by a different standard.
How do you prep for an appearance?
I follow the most informed political reporters. I particularly like to follow the folks who are embedded with the campaigns (CNN’s Brianna Keilar, NBC’s Katy Tur, The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman). I really use social media to keep up with what’s happening. So much can happen in one day that can change the course of this campaign. So I’m reading all the time.
Do you have a favorite on-air sparring partner?
No. I really do not have a favorite amongst Trump surrogates. They all look the same to me. They really all sound eerily alike.
What will you do if Trump gets elected?
If Donald Trump wins I’m going to be looking for a place to seek exile. I’m pretty sure he’s planning on deporting me.
Has he ever contacted you directly?
He’s tweeted against me and he’s bad-mouthed me in The New York Times. I suspect he may have called some of my employers trying to get me fired. And I’ve received calls from some mutual friends who all tell me that he really isn’t a racist, misogynist, sexist pig; he’s just playing one on TV. To which I say, well, if I want to vote for a guy who plays a racist misogynist on TV, I may as well vote for Archie Bunker.
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