Fox News anchor Chris Wallace is not sure what to expect from President Trump. But the veteran journalist, who hosted the third presidential debate last election, has a hunch about Washington D.C. under the new president: continued political gridlock.
So argued Wallace during his keynote speech for the 74th annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of American conference in Grande Lakes Orlando this week. Each year the WSWA conference brings together thousands of distributors, producers and media members.
Amid a humorous speech that explored his decades in Washington D.C., Wallace shared insight on the new administration, and how it could affect the alcohol industry.
“After thirty years in Washington D.C. I felt like I could predict how things would play out. That is no longer the case,” Wallace said of Trump’s surprise victory. “Though I wonder whether he has the discipline and temperament to marshal his agenda through Congress.”
Alluding to Trump’s recent failures with travel restrictions and healthcare overhaul, Wallace said, “I think most new presidents overestimate their mandates from the American people. And that leads to mistakes of hubris.”
Wallace drew parallels to President Obama’s post-election dismissal of Republicans, which helped fuel eight years of political rancor and stalemate. “I’m afraid the same thing could happen again,” Wallace said.
To appeal to President Trump, Wallace suggested that the alcohol industry highlight its American-made products. But this may complicate sales of imported products, he added.
Whatever future challenges may face the industry, WSWA Chairman Carmine Martignetti of Martignetti Companies believes they are best tackled through cooperation. “How do we respond to change? We respond together,” he said in his speech during the opening ceremony.
As example, Martignetti cited WSWA’s recent investment in the digital alcohol delivery app Drizly. “This is exactly the kind of work we need to keep WSWA vibrant and relevant.”
Cannabis legalization remained a pertinent topic. While the WSWA has remained neutral on the issue, Martignetti said that “there’s no denying the change that’s coming” with marijuana.
“We have worked closely with legalization proponents to understand their views and have offer our three-tier system as a model worth replicating for their new industry,” he added.
The 2017 Sidney Frank Innovation Award went to Gerry Ruvo, chairman, Campari America (pictured atop). The annual recognition honors an industry titan who typifies the qualities of the award’s namesake. “Sidney Frank is someone I admired for his determination, his innovation, and his generosity,” Ruvo said.
Every year a donation is made to the winner’s charity of choice. “I expect in other industries that you would just get an award. In wine and spirits, this yet again demonstrates how generous we are,” Ruvo said.
He opted to benefit the American Cancer Society and prostate cancer research, having overcome the disease years earlier himself. Ruvo pointed to the support of friends in the industry as helping him through the difficult period. “Generosity comes in many forms,” he said. “It’s possible to be generous every day without spending a dime.”
Feature photo courtesy of WSWA.