Donald Trump’s Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow Talks Return to Cable TV and Life in the White House
Kudlow's first week on Fox Business featured a slate of former Trump administration officials and — "at some point" — may feature the former president himself
It's a wonderful life for Larry Kudlow, who feels "blessed" to be making his return to cable television after nearly three years in the White House.
The former top economic adviser to President Donald Trump and longtime news commentator premiered an eponymous economic news program on Fox Business last Tuesday, becoming the first top Trump staffer to land a mainstream media gig while other aides faced calls of condemnation after leaving the administration.
But not Kudlow, 73, who is an experienced presence in front of the cable TV cameras.
"I've been very blessed in my lifetime," he tells PEOPLE. "I'm turning the page and it's a new chapter in my career."
Kudlow carved out a relatively low profile in his role within a controversy-ridden West Wing (though his remarks about the COVID-19 pandemic and his predictions about a rapid U.S. recovery were criticized in 2020 along with the rest of the Trump administration).
But now? Kudlow chuckles with a pride as he recalls the past three years advising Trump, 74, and his economic policy.
"It was kind of a job of a lifetime," he says. "It's a big job; it's a handful. But I loved doing it."
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Kudlow, a self-proclaimed workaholic, reveled in the challenges the former president consistently threw at his staff, he says — striking a tone quite unlike the accounts of some other top aides like Gens. John Kelly and Jim Mattis.
"He's a hands-on guy," Kudlow says. "He'd call you up, it could be early in the morning, like 7 or 7:15 am you might get a call from him. [Trump would] say, 'I want to see you in the late morning [with a new report].' And you're off to the races."
"I loved that," Kudlow says. "Who wouldn't love that?"
He says Trump "gave me thorough, complete access" and that Kudlow "was in and out of [the Oval Office] constantly."
Top Trump officials like former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have slammed the president's attention span. Tillerson even said Trump's ability to pay attention during meetings was so depleted that he resorted to presenting information pictures and graphics, instead of spoken or written reports, hoping to keep the president engaged. (Trump responded by calling Tillerson "dumb as a rock.")
In Kudlow's telling, though, the president was "unconventional."
"The actual process — I learned it years ago when I worked for [former President Ronald Reagan] — there's a certain governmental, inside-wiring process that I don't think changes that much," Kudlow says.
Although the economic adviser criticized Trump's leadership during the January Capitol attack (and some other officials resigned), Kudlow says their relationship was unharmed. Kudlow has also criticized Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.
"We left on very good terms," he says, noting the last time he spoke to Trump was a 20-minute conversation on Jan. 14 — a week before the former president begrudgingly left the White House to make way for President Joe Biden.
"At some point," Kudlow says of Trump, "We will reach out to him and see if he has an interest in [appearing as a guest on the program]."
So far, Kudlow has been something of a White House reunion. The show's first week featured guests like former Trump Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Trump Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Trump National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien.
"Yes," Kudlow says, there will be many guests from the Trump administration appearing periodically — "but not only."
"We will be reaching out [to Democratic guests]," says the self-described "free-enterprise guy." "There will be a whole universe of people, believe me. I have a lot of friends in the Democratic Party and we'll get them on."
On Tuesday, the day his show premiered, Kudlow was caught on a hot-mic calling "b-------" on Vice President Kamala Harris after the network aired a clip in which she said the Biden administration was "starting from scratch" with COVID-19 because of President Trump's handling of the pandemic. (Kudlow apologized for saying a "bad word.")
"There'll be disagreements," Kudlow tells PEOPLE about his show's politics. "That's fine, but let's try to do it based on facts and civility and respect."
As for himself, Kudlow is "very happy" to be back living in New York City with wife Judith Pond Kudlow, an oil painter trained in classical realism, whom he married in 1986.
"It's been wonderful," he says about his return to TV and the city, where he begins the next phase of his career. Retirement, he says, isn't in the cards.
"I still don't believe in retirement; I don't understand the word," he says. "I just adore working. Work is a virtue. What else am I going to do?"
Kudlow airs weekdays (4 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET) on Fox Business.
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