True believers on TV for Trump, but false starts for future roles

(CNN)When Donald Trump descended the Trump Tower escalator in June 2015 to officially launch his race for the White House, the former reality TV show star had business and entertainment associates ready to vouch for him, but finding people in politics to declare him ready to be leader of the free world was a different story.

As the campaign wore on, and Trump wore out one primary opponent at a time, he gradually picked up vocal allies and well-known names to serve as regular surrogates on the campaign trail as well as on the platform that made Trump himself a national figure long before his campaign ever got started: television.
Their persistent presence on television raised expectations about what kinds of roles many of them would have if Trump won. And, for a time, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that every loyal surrogate in Trump’s against-the-odds campaign who wanted a role in the White House would have one.


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To be sure, many of them did. Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus all logged many hours of TV hits during the campaign, and all ended up with offices just steps away from the Oval Office. Even former GOP primary rivals, like former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Dr. Ben Carson, who eventually endorsed and actively campaigned for Trump ended up with jobs in the President’s Cabinet.
But what about some of the other political pros who got aboard the Trump train but somehow didn’t make it when it reached its final destination at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Here’s a look at how some of them jumped the tracks:
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani
A presidential hopeful himself in 2008, Giuliani endorsed his fellow New Yorker and became a staple at campaign rallies, attempting to connect with both establishment Republicans and grassroots conservatives.
Giuliani frequently touted Trump’s global performance in business and was reportedly in contention for being the President’s top diplomat, Secretary of State.
But the offer never came — and Giuliani was publicly vocal in his disappointment that Trump was considering fierce Trump critic Mitt Romney for the coveted spot.
Trump’s transition team announced in January that Giuliani, who runs an international security consulting firm, would have an advisory role outside the administration “sharing his expertise and insight as a trusted friend concerning private sector cybersecurity problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector.”
Gov. Chris Christie, R-New Jersey
Christie became the first former primary rival to back Trump after dropping his own presidential bid in February 2016, immediately adding an air of establishment opportunity for Trump’s outsider attempt at the nomination.
Trump rewarded Christie’s early embrace and bullish boosterism by naming him as the transition team chair and later vetting him for the vice presidency.
Not only did Christie not get the No. 2 nod, but Trump turned to Vice President-elect Mike Pence to take over the transition just days after their victory.
More recently, Christie appeared to have new life in Trump world after the President tapped him to lead a task force on combating the opioid epidemic.
Former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska
The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee was one of the first high-profile politicians to come out in support of Trump. The former Alaska governor, still popular with tea party supporters in the GOP, appeared on the trail for Trump several times during the campaign’s homestretch to appeal to grassroots conservatives.
Long before Trump won, Palin expressed interest in 2015 in leading the Department of Energy, but that slot eventually went to Perry.
She’s since gone back to her pre-election role of advocating for the issues popular with the base, sporadically challenging Trump to remember those who sent him to Washington.
Palin resurfaced when she and musicians Ted Nugent and Kid Rock had dinner with Trump at the White House last week and posted several photos of the visit on Facebook.
Katrina Pierson, Trump campaign national spokeswoman
Pierson, a 2014 Texas congressional candidate endorsed by Palin, became a familiar face on cable news as she advocated for and defended Trump.
As late as mid-December, Pierson was hoping to continue her role by heading to the White House.
Trump “wanted me there, and I wanted to be there,” she told Washingtonian, saying she turned down the role of deputy press secretary after initially accepting the role.
Pierson now is involved with America First Policies, a fledgling nonprofit focused on promoting Trump’s policies to his base.
Carl Paladino, Trump campaign New York state chair
The Buffalo businessman was widely perceived as a kindred spirit to Trump, best remembered for incendiary rhetoric and combative clashes with opponents and the media in his unsuccessful 2010 bid for governor in New York.
After endorsing Trump in the presidential contest, he made numerous appearances on air for the eventual nominee.
The Trump campaign didn’t comment when Paladino threatened a delegate to the Republican convention last summer who was advocating that the party drop Trump from the ticket.
At the end of 2016, the Trump transition team called derisive comments Paladino made about then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama “reprehensible.”

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