Paul Manafort is now the "person in charge" of Donald Trump's presidential campaign after the campaign announced it has parted ways with Corey Lewandowski, who had been by the presumptive GOP nominee's side since the beginning of his campaign last spring, senior campaign advisor Barry Bennett said Monday, while admitting that he hated to see Lewandowski go.
"Mr. Trump obviously made a decision this morning," Bennett told Fox News' Martha MacCallum on the "America's Newsroom"
program. "I have not yet talked to him about it, or anyone at the campaign for that matter, but I think they wanted to go in a different direction. It is his campaign. He is entitled to do that. Corey is a good friend of mine. I hate to see this happen."
Campaigns grow all the time, Bennett continued, and "seldom does the same person stay in charge. A general election is much different than a primary. Obviously Mr. Trump wanted to make a change."
And with the change, said Bennett, he believes Manafort is "totally in charge," but he isn't expecting dramatic changes, as Trump's campaign is about the nation's people who are in pain.
While MacCallum said it sounds as if Bennett is "frustrated" with the campaign's focus, Bennett denied that.
"I want him to use the skill set he has to become a champion of people," said Bennett. "When he gets going in that vein, he will be unstoppable."
Manafort was brought in this spring as a convention manager while there was still speculation that Trump's nomination could be blocked in a contested convention in Cleveland in July. However, after Trump's last two remaining rivals, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, dropped out of the race, Manafort's job began to change. In May, Trump tapped Manafort
as his campaign chairman, keeping Lewandowski as the campaign manager.
The decision reportedly caused some friction
in the Trump campaign, including reports that Lewandowski and campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks were seen on a New York City street arguing over Manafort.
Bennett on Monday denied that the campaign's mood has darkened with Trump's dipping numbers.
"The margin and [Real Clear Politics] average have gone down a couple points," Bennett said.
"That is because Hillary Clinton got the nomination and Democrats are coming home to her. That is kind of natural. That should be expected. You can't measure campaigns by the week. It's like measuring sunshine by the ounce. It is really irrelevant."
Bennett also said he is not sure that Trump's campaign will pivot with Lewandowski out and Manafort in charge.
"The campaign has always been about the Mexican immigration problem and schools that don't work and government that is wasteful and people who can't find jobs and no one is getting a raise," said Bennett. "That is the kind of things this campaign has been about over a year. We need to talk about that more for sure."
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