By Bonnie K. Goodman
Republican nominee Donald Trump is shaking up his campaign staff leadership in hopes that can still beat opponent Hillary Clinton in the general election in November. On Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016, Trump made two major changes to his staff adding a new CEO Stephen Bannon executive chairman of Breitbart News and promoting his senior advisor and pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. Since the Republican National Convention, Trump’s campaign has been floundering with controversy after controversy dogging him as he falls in the polls.
Trump in a campaign statement announced the additions, calling them “extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win.” Continuing the GOP nominee praised Bannon and Conway, saying, “I believe we’re adding some of the best talents in politics, with the experience and expertise needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November and continue to share my message and vision to Make America Great Again. I am committed to doing whatever it takes to win this election, and ultimately become President because our country cannot afford four more years of the failed Obama-Clinton policies which have endangered out financial and physical security.”
According to the statement, Bannon will have “a new position designed to bolster the business-like approach of Mr. Trump’s campaign” consisting of “oversight of the campaign staff and operations.” Conway will focus on Trump’s campaign message. Just hours before, the Trump campaign announced that former embattle FOX News head Roger Ailes will be prepping Trump for the three presidential debates, however, the campaign is now denying Ailes involvement.
Trump is retaining Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort although he might have been involved in a “corruption scandal” involving Ukraine. Manafort will stay at the campaign’s Washington, DC office, and according to CNN he will be “largely sidelined.” Bannon will be at the helms, taking over as Trump’s “top advisor” where the message will return the focus of Trump as the “outsider candidate.”
The campaign staff changes are weeks in the making, as tensions rose between the GOP nominee and Manafort. Trump’s campaign has been free fall since the convention, with controversy after controversy, and lagging poll numbers that have Trump trailing Clinton in both the national polls and battleground states. Manafort wanted to mold Trump into a tradition presidential candidate, while Trump veered towards the freewheeling style that brought him success in the primaries, a clash that has brought negative results recently.
Prominent GOP donor Rebekah Mercer and her father, Robert influenced Trump’s decision, as well as his children and advisors Donald, Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner was the one that met with Trump’s top campaign official both new and old at Trump Tower to notify them of the changes.
Clinton attacked Trump on his campaign shakeup at a rally held in Cleveland, Ohio. Clinton emphasized that nothing is different about Trump even with his new and improved campaign staff. The Democratic nominee pointed out, “I think it’s fair to say that Donald Trump has shown us who he is. He can hire and fire anybody he wants from his campaign. They can make him read new words from a teleprompter, but he’s still the same man who insults gold star families, demeans women, mocks people with disabilities and thinks he knows more about ISIS than our generals. There is no new Donald Trump. This is it.”
Trump seems to agree but not for the same reasons Clinton implied. Speaking to a Wisconsin radio station, WKDT Trump said he did not want to change his campaign style. The GOP nominee expressed, “I am who I am. It’s me. I don’t want to change. Everyone talks about, ‘Oh are you going to pivot?’ I don’t want to pivot. You have to be you. If you start pivoting you are not being honest with people.”