U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump has appointed 30-year-old Aaron Borders, second vice chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party, to lead his official ground campaign in Arizona.
Borders, who moved to Arizona from Ohio in 2009 and says he's been around political campaigns his whole life, will even be traveling to Cleveland next week to help the Trump campaign prepare for the first Republican presidential debate.
He says Trump tapped him for the position of Arizona State Director after visiting Phoenix earlier this month because, he tells New Times – and then immediately apologizes for sounding immodest — he was one of the few “that actually did any work” for the event. “I made this thing come off without a hitch.”
Borders was also, it turns out, most likely the person behind Trump’s viral comment that his event drew crowds of 12- to 15,000. “We had 4,200 inside,” he says, “but outside, people lined the streets and filled a nearby parking garage… I passed out 14 boxes of Trump signs just giving them out to people who couldn’t get inside the Convention Center. There were so many people outside, that at one point I asked a Phoenix police officer how many people he thought there were, and he told me 8-12,000.”
Borders says he takes no responsibility for any miscommunication that happened between the time he reported that figure to his superiors and Trump’s now infamous statement. But keep in mind, he adds, Trump “did such a good job [at the event that] the media could not criticize his content. They just focused on the number of people who were there and calling him out on exaggerating.”
After the event, Borders says Trump approached him to say what a “phenomenal job” he did organizing everything. “We’ve checked you out…and you come highly recommended,” Borders recalls Trump saying. “Are you interested in running this? We’d like to have you be our point guy [for Arizona].”
Since then, Borders says he’s helped recruit more than 1,000 volunteers, put together a comprehensive campaign plan and calendar for the next few months, and even has submitted a post-nomination campaign plan. “My wife will attest,” he says with a chuckle, “I eat, sleep, and breathe this…They’re even talking about me running [the campaigns] in Utah and Nevada.”
Borders, who worked for Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign in 2012, and Mitt Romney’s in 2008 and 2012, always has been a bit of an over-achiever, from what he says. He tells New Times that he passed the required Ohio high school graduation exam as an 8th grader, got a 1200 on his SATs as a 9th grader, and started college later that year. He graduated with a degree in business and a minor in English when he was 18. The following year Borders married his wife, who is from Arizona, and they now have four kids.
He worked in a construction business building houses after college, but after the housing market collapsed in late 2008, he realized he needed to find a new career. The family moved to Arizona in 2009, and with a few thousand dollars in his bank account, Borders says he got into insurance and has become owner of his own company.
He ran for the Arizona House of Representatives in 2014 as a Republican in District 29, and lost by a few percentage points. “Everybody told me I was crazy [for running],” he says, but I know how to organize, I know how to turn out the vote.
A few months later, he decided to run for a position in the Maricopa County Republican Party, and in January of this year he became the Second Vice Chairman. (He explains that there is no conflict of interest between this position and his role in the Trump campaign. Plus, he would have no problem resigning from his county position if he needed to do so for Trump.)
“Working on a campaign is a blast,” he says, describing the first time he got involved with politics. It was 1992, and as a seven-year-old in Ohio with a daily paper route, he was asked to distribute George H.W. Bush flyers door-to-door as he delivered papers.
“I just remember crying and being devastated when Bush lost to [Bill] Clinton, and my dad saying, ‘Aaron, don’t worry, there’s always the next campaign.’” As he got older, Borders graduated from passing out flyers to the prestigious and glamorous position of stamping and licking envelopes in his county's Republican Party headquarters.
To this day he remains an ardent supporter of “burning shoe leather and going out and talking to people. “Even in the age of social media, he favors “old school politics: getting out there knocking on doors.” He declined to reveal any more specifics about his campaign strategy except to say that he and a few others are almost done setting up the official Arizona Trump campaign headquarters.
“I’m hyper-organized, work my tail off, and hold people to things and get results,” he says of himself. “I’m very good at wearing multiple hats [and] I’m straight-edge to a fault. If you don’t have your ethics, you have nothing.”
In fact, it’s Trump’s firm and unwavering political stance that attracts Borders to the candidate — and that makes him think the real estate mogul will absolutely win the presidency next November. When he looks at the last few presidential elections, it’s clear to him that “ the only time Republicans win is when they are staunch conservatives and stay that way…When a Republican tries to be moderate [or move] to the middle, [he loses].” He cites Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney as examples.
“The American way just happens to be the conservative way,” he adds. “Trump has come out as a conservative, and as long as he stays that way, he’ll win.” Borders says he knows his candidate won’t capitulate because “he’s not beholden to anyone.”
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What’s more, he’s “dominating the media [by] bringing up issues that no [other candidates] want to talk about. People are sick of the [politically correct] stuff and worrying about offending someone. People are looking for someone who will say it like they mean it,” Borders says.
“[Trump's] poll numbers are getting better, [and even when other candidates] beat the crap out him, he keeps fighting. America loves a fighter; America loves a winner…Trump will take Arizona, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Borders says confidently.
“I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t think he could win.”
According to the Donald J. Trump Campaign, Aaron Borders is not, and has never been a paid staffer.