Republican political consultant Karl Rove was "stunned" that Donald Trump has not grasped campaign basics in his quest for the White House after a meeting during the primaries — and party leaders are now pairing the nominee with more experienced operatives on the trail to steady his presence.
Rove, who directed both campaigns of President George W. Bush, gave his impressions to associates after a session with Trump in May at the New York apartment of Steve Wynn, the casino magnate and mutual friend, report Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman for The New York Times.
Those core tasks included "how to map out a schedule and use data to reach voters," they reported.
During the meeting, Trump said that "he would compete in states like Oregon, which has not voted Republican since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide," according to the Times.
Rove later said that he believed that Trump "was confused and scared in anticipation of the general election," the article reports.
Burns and Haberman said that they interviewed more than 20 Republicans who are "close" to Trump or who are "in communication with his campaign" in a report that detailed the effort to "save Mr. Trump from himself."
Besides getting the nominee to stick to teleprompters during his speeches, the endeavor includes keeping Trump from responding to every attack — or "perceived slights" — from opponents or the media, devoting more time to policy issues and toning down his inflammatory rhetoric and combative style.
"He has three or four good days and then makes another gaffe," Charles Black Jr., a top Republican lobbyist backing Trump, told the Times. "Hopefully, he can have some more good days.
"They think," Black added, referring to Trump's advisers, "he is making progress in terms of being able to make set speeches and not take the bait on every attack somebody makes on him."
Trump is also being paired with other Republicans on the campaign trail. These include former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus campaigned with Trump in Pennsylvania on Friday. Huckabee was with him two days earlier in Florida.
"He doesn’t seem to be as unnerved by these things that go wrong as the people around him," Giuliani, who campaigned with Trump in North Carolina on Tuesday, told the Times.
"I think it is true that maybe it took him a little while to realize that we’re moving from a primary campaign to a presidential campaign," he acknowledged.
Trump, he said, had become "a little bit more realizing there are certain days left and you’ve got to get messages out on those days."
Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, said that the nominee remained steadfast in his bid to win in November and "dismissed accounts that he was downcast," the Times reports.
Miller noted the huge crowds at Trump rallies throughout the campaign.
"Behind the scenes, we have a very motivated and very focused candidate in Donald Trump, who knows what he needs to do to win this race."
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