Making Sense of the Trump-Biden Transition

Ron Fournier and John Truscott have both seen presidential transitions up close. But this one is very different.

President Biden

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

After weeks of denial about his loss in the presidential election, President Trump still has not conceded to President-elect Joe Biden. However, the transition has officially begun with the General Services Administration (GSA) finally allowing it to move forward.

“I think Biden’s going to have a harder time with his own base — or as hard of a time with his own base — as he will with Republicans.” – Ron Fournier, Truscott Rossman

The two principals at Detroit-based political communications firm Truscott Rossman have both seen presidential transitions up close, and have a lot to say about how this one is shaping up so far.

Listen: Truscott Rossman principals John Truscott and Ron Fournier discuss the presidential transition.


John Truscott is CEO of Truscott Rossman and served as press secretary for former Michigan governor John Engler. He worked on George W. Bush’s presidential transition team in 2000. He says he’s “a bit perplexed” by Trump and many GOP officials’ denial of election results.

“It’s really unfortunate to see what’s been going on,” says Truscott. “Most credible Republicans have given up on trying to claim that votes were stolen and things like that. And I’ve moved on and most Republicans I know are moving on.”

He says there’s one similarity between his experience in 2000 and this transition. That year, he was working in the Bush transition team’s provisional office — not an official full-time office — while the campaign waited for a final outcome of that year’s election.

“We basically set up what was a shadow transition office,” he says. “It’s not as fast and efficient as a full-time transition office, but you can get going, you can start the process, start interviewing people, things like that. So, I assume that’s what the Biden campaign has done until they got the official GSA approval last week.”

Ron Fournier is president of Truscott Rossman and former Associated Press Washington bureau chief. He covered multiple presidential transitions as a reporter going back to President Bill Clinton’s transition in 1992. He says he think Biden’s challenges will have as much to do with the left-wing of the Democratic party as it will with Republicans in Congress.

“I think Biden’s going to have a harder time with his own base — or as hard of a time with his own base — as he will with Republicans,” says Fournier, who says a lot will depend on what happens with the Senate run-offs in Georgia. 

“If the Democrats win the Senate, the left is going to be very emboldened and will be very demanding, and will claim credit, and will actually deserve credit for winning Georgia… and will want more,” he says.

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