Standing at an imposing 6-foot-5, radio host Bill Mitchell towered over pretty much everyone at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week. It provided a fitting visual, as few cut a more triumphant figure at the gathering than he did.
“I’m kind of a national figure now,” Mitchell said in an interview over breakfast.
Mitchell became a mini-celebrity in the political media world last year for his unwavering conviction that Donald Trump would be elected president, despite an abundance of polling that pointed to a Hillary Clinton victory.
“Imagine polls don’t exist,” he said on Twitter in August. “Show me evidence that Hillary is winning?”
Tweets like that made Mitchell, a longtime executive recruiter in Charlotte, an object of ridicule among liberals and data wonks like Nate Silver. It also prompted many to wonder whether he was engaged in some kind of performance art.
Mitchell always insisted he wasn’t, and in the end he had the last laugh over everyone who spent months laughing at him.
“Let me put it this way: In my life, I’ve been right, and I’ve been wrong,” Mitchell said. “And being right is better.”
Silver-haired with a long face, Mitchell wore a gold ring that displayed the rallying cries of the Trump supporters. It was given to him by a fan who owns a jewelery store in Florida. Mitchell calls it “a Trump championship ring.”
“Very few people in the world have one of these,” he said. “Sean Hannity has one, too.”
It was Mitchell’s first time at CPAC, a trip that provided affirmation of his new career as a conservative political commentator and a hero among Trump supporters. On Thursday, as Mitchell stood near his booth on radio row, a man approached him. “Are you Bill Mitchell?” he asked asked. “I’m a big fan.”
Mitchell’s meteoric rise over the last year has been nothing short of remarkable. He came out of nowhere, and suddenly he was everywhere. After spending his career as a headhunter, Mitchell decided to try his hand at punditry after Trump entered the race in 2015.
“When Trump first walked down that escalator,” he said, referring to Trump’s campaign launch, “I had 140 followers on Twitter.”
Today, Mitchell has 192,000 followers — 800 of whom, he points out, are verified. And his ascendance is owed almost entirely to Mitchell’s tireless “unskewing” of polls throughout last year’s campaign. For every piece of data showing Clinton with a lead, Mitchell pointed out why it was hogwash, insisting that pollsters were oversampling Democrats and overlooking enthusiasm among Trump supporters.
“If anybody wants to become big on Twitter, I say the most important thing you can do is become known for something, become the go-to guy or girl for something,” he said. “And for me it was polling.”
Mitchell said he took a “big pay cut” to launch his radio show about six months ago. He’s now in talks with “a number of investor groups” about syndicating the program, YourVoice Radio, which currently streams on YouTube.
“To me, I’m 56-years-old,” Mitchell said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to self-actualize, to do something that really matters.”
Mitchell is fond of referencing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, especially when rhapsodizing about Trump.
“Trump goes out there and says out loud what the voters are thinking,” he said. “So they obtained their self-actualization through him. They can live vicariously through him.”
Mitchell was so convinced of the candidate’s appeal that he guaranteed a Trump victory in September. The tweet, like so many others, was roundly mocked, but Mitchell said there was nothing to be gained through timidity.
“I have a philosophy in life that fortune favors the bold,” he explained. “If you hedge your bet and you’re wrong, you’re still wrong. But if you’re right, they’ll never forget you.”
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