Tags: Trump Administration | Donald Trump | Roger Ailes | trump | staff | shakeup | ailes

Trump Shakeup Came After Ailes Urged Big Changes

Trump Shakeup Came After Ailes Urged Big Changes

(Jim Cooper/AP)

Wednesday, 17 August 2016 11:14 AM

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump overhauled his campaign leadership Wednesday after former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes urged that a struggling Trump make dramatic changes,  according to a person familiar with the matter.

Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of crusading right-wing site Breitbart News and a former Goldman Sachs banker, was named chief executive of the campaign

Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who has been working as a senior adviser to Trump since July, was promoted to campaign manager.

The new leaders plan to return a full-bore anti-establishment tenor to the operation,dispensing with efforts to transition to a more formal, toned-down approach associated with campaign chairman Paul Manafort,the person said.

The campaign will seek to galvanize Americans who feel that the elites in both parties and the media don’t understand them or care about their problems, and to stoke the emotions that former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ supporters felt.

In turning to Conway and Bannon, Trump is bolstering his campaign’s links to Robert Mercer, a Long Island hedge-fund manager and major conservative donor who often tweaks the Republican establishment. Other than Mercer’s daughter Rebekah, Bannon and Conway are perhaps his family’s closest political advisers. The Mercers couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

After weeks of polls showing Trump trailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton nationally and in key battleground states, Trump indicated he’d grown frustrated.

“I am who I am. It’s me. I don’t want to change,” Trump told WKBT-TV in Wisconsin on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. “Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, well you're going to pivot, you're going to.’ I don't want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you're not being honest with people.”

The decision to shake up the campaign came over the weekend, the person familiar with the matter said.

Ailes traveled to Trump’s Bedminster golf course in New Jersey to urge changes to the campaign, the person said. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was also at the talks, agreed.

Responding to a report Tuesday that Ailes was helping Trump prepare to debate Clinton, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied that Ailes was advising the candidate. “They are longtime friends, but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign,” Hicks said in a statement.

Manafort is keeping his title. The staffing moves come just days after the New York Times published an investigative report into his dealings in Ukraine, where he served as an adviser to that country’s pro-Russian former president.

Manafort was seen as someone who could help guide Trump on broadening his appeal to general-election voters, but Trump has shown himself disinclined to cooperate with advisers’ recommendations. Manafort’s background in overseas work also underscored Trump’s regular praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom the nominee has called a stronger leader than U.S. President Barack Obama and someone with whom the U.S. should strengthen its relationship to better fight Islamic State terrorists.

Trump even went so far as to encourage Russian hackers, during the Democratic National Convention, to find Clinton’s deleted private e-mails. 

Manafort was hired in March to lead efforts to run a successful national convention after Republicans opposed to Trump openly welcomed the possibility of another nominee emerging with the help of sympathetic delegates at the gathering in Cleveland in July. While the nomination ended up going relatively smoothly, the convention didn’t give Trump the sustained polling bounce he had hoped for.

“It is imperative we continue to expand our team with top-tier talent,” Manafort said in a news release from the campaign. “Steve and Kellyanne are respected professionals who believe in Mr. Trump and his message and will undoubtedly help take the campaign to new levels of success.”

Trump in the release said, “I am committed to doing whatever it takes to win this election.”

Conway is the second campaign manager serving Trump. The first, Corey Lewandowski, was dismissed in June after helping Trump clinch the nomination during a combative primary race.

In March, Lewandowski grabbed a reporter working for Bannon’s Breitbart as she questioned the billionaire after a Florida press conference. A prosecutor later dropped a simple battery charge against him.  

Bannon, a major figure in the conservative-media world, played a crucial role in some of the most scathing allegations against Clinton.

A heavily researched book published in May 2015 called "Clinton Cash" was produced by the Government Accountability Institute, which Bannon co-founded and presides over as executive chairman.

The book outlined a series of connections between the Clinton Foundation, former President Bill Clinton's paid speeches, and Hillary Clinton's decisions as secretary of state.

Despite Clinton’s strength in horse-race polls, she and Trump are about even on the question of trustworthiness. In a Bloomberg Politics national poll conducted Aug. 5-8, 41 percent of likely voters said “trustworthy” better described Clinton and 39 percent said so of Trump. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

The poll also found Clinton to be vulnerable on her e-mail practices and her family foundation’s practices when she was secretary of state. Almost six in 10 likely voters, 58 percent, said Clinton’s handling of her private e-mail, which the FBI director called “extremely careless,” bothered them a lot, and another 22 percent said it bothered them a little.

More than half of likely voters, 53 percent, said it bothered them a lot that the Clinton foundation accepted money from foreign governments when she was secretary of state, and another 21 percent said it bothered them a little.

Bannon is temporarily stepping down from Breitbart to work full-time on the campaign “in a new position designed to bolster the business-like approach of Mr. Trump’s campaign,” the news release said. Conway “will work on messaging and travel frequently with Mr. Trump, while working closely with Mr. Bannon and Mr. Manafort on all aspects of the campaign moving forward.”

Bannon is volunteering and won’t receive a paycheck, the person familiar with the matter said.

Conway is among the Trump insiders who have encouraged the candidate to lay blame on the news media, and to pound out the arguments against Clinton.

“Bottom line: media cover this election as a referendum on Trump while voters see it as a referendum on Hillary,” Conway said in a recent interview.

She said that “many issues of the day for Trump became issues of the week,” but “how many issues of the day for Hillary never go out of the gate? It is embarrassing.”


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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump overhauled his campaign leadership Wednesday after former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes urged that a struggling Trump make dramatic changes, according to a person familiar with the matter.
trump, staff, shakeup, ailes
Wednesday, 17 August 2016 11:14 AM
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