Last evening Donald Trump made several key changes to his campaign team. Mr. Trump named Stephen Bannon as the campaign’s chief executive in a move that would appear to downgrade the influence of campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Trump also announced that Kellyanne Conway will assume the role of campaign manager.
Letting Trump be Trump
The move appears one that will elevate Trump’s combative campaign style and rebuffs those who have encouraged Mr. Trump to tack towards a more traditional campaign strategy.
"Donald Trump, following weeks of gnawing agitation over his advisers’ attempts to temper his style, moved late Tuesday to overhaul his struggling campaign by rebuffing those efforts and elevating two longtime associates who have encouraged his combative populism. "— The Washington Post
Mr. Bannon has served as CEO of the conservative news outlet Breitbart News. He has been an outspoken critic of the GOP establishment and gives a clear signal that Mr. Trump intends to continue his unorthodox campaign style and has rejected the advice that he moderate his tone and positions.
RNC is on board with changes
The Republican National Committee (RNC) seemingly is on board with the new changes in the Trump campaign organization. Sean Spicer, chief strategist for the RNC, said, “The campaign is expanding and bringing in more senior people in the final stretch. Obviously that’s a healthy thing.”
The move also comes during a controversy over campaign chair Paul Manafort’s consulting activities in the Ukraine where Manafort was recently named in a corruption investigation. Manafort was brought in last spring to replace Corey Lewandowski who’s mantra was “let Trump be Trump.” This latest move would appear to vindicate Mr. Lewandowski’s view.
The decision to add Mr. Bannon and Ms. Conway to the top tier of the campaign was reportedly made over the weekend in the Hamptons. Several top Trump supporters complained about attempts to force Mr. Trump to tone down is his message. They feel that Trump’s best chance to win is by going back to “being Trump.”
"You've got a candidate who wants to win. This is a clear indication of that. If you look at Stephen Bannon and what they've built at Breitbart, it's win at all costs. The campaign wants to prove to the Clinton people that they're going to take this fight directly to her. "— Corey Lewandowski on CNN
Clinton campaign welcomes Mr. Bannon to the campaign trail
The Clinton campaign wasted no time welcoming Mr. Bannon to the campaign trail. Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said of Mr. Bannon:
"After several failed attempts to pivot into a more serious and presidential mode, Donald Trump has decided to double down on his most small, nasty and divisive instincts by turning his campaign over to someone who’s best known for running a so-called news site that peddles divisive, at times, racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories," — Robby Mook – Politico
Just when most folks felt the 2016 campaign could not get any weirder or wilder, we seem to be moving to another level. It should prove to be a fascinating ride.