Trump Replaces Campaign Manager As Polls Show Him Trailing Joe Biden In Presidential Race


President Donald Trump announced Wednesday night that he is replacing campaign manager Brad Parscale with longtime political aide Bill Stepien as recent polls show him falling further behind Joe Biden in the presidential race amid a spreading pandemic that has devastated the economy.

The president wrote on social media that Parscale “who has been with me for a long time,” will stay as a senior adviser focusing on digital and data strategies. Parscale has been marginalized in the campaign for several weeks, officials said, with Trump angry about a botched rally in Oklahoma, where far fewer people attended than expected, and his lagging poll numbers.

Parscale did not respond to a request for comment. The campaign referred a request for comment to the president’s Facebook and Twitter posts.

Stepien was the field director for the 2016 campaign and has worked for the president since the election. He’s known for a low-key style in Trump world and his knowledge of battleground states. He was formerly a top aide to Gov. Chris Christie.

Trump told Stepien on Wednesday he was getting the job, a senior White House official said.

The shake-up comes as the Trump campaign struggles to find its footing after national health, economic and racial justice crises have shaken the nation. Recent polls in key swing states like Arizona, Michigan and Florida have consistently shown Trump losing to Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee, this summer. Trump also trailed Biden nationally in two polls released Wednesday – by 15 percentage points in a Quinnipiac University poll and 11 percentage points NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

It’s unclear what the shake-up of campaign staff will achieve given that Trump often acts on his instincts and has show little interest in taking the steps political strategists say would help him win over undecided voters.

He continues to downplay the severity of the pandemic while deferring to local officials to mitigate the outbreak rather than seizing control of the situation. His reaction to the racial justice protests has increasingly been to inflame tensions by defending the police against calls for reform and embracing memorials to the Confederacy at a time when many are calling them monuments to racism not history.

Parscale publicly embraced the president’s approach to issues roiling the country and sought to become a prominent figure among Trump’s supporters.

At 6-foot-8 with a dramatic red beard, Parscale cuts a brash figure and is given to statements such as comparing the Trump campaign to the Death Star, a superweapon in the Star Wars movies.

His strength from the start of the 2016 campaign, in addition to his digital know how, was his close relationship with Trump’s older children. His firm, Parscale Strategy, bills for the campaign salary of Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the wife and girlfriend respectively of Trump’s two oldest sons, Eric and Donald.

Parscale’s standing with the president had been growing shakier since the spring, according to people close to the president who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal dynamics. The underwhelming rally in Tulsa, which failed to meet expectations Parscale had set for Trump, was broadly blamed on the campaign manager.

A senior Trump administration official said last week that Parscale “knows he screwed up” but that he maintained the trust of the Trump family.

The president, however, has been more vocal in his frustration with Parscale, and the campaign leadership had begun to shift, with Stepien and other advisers taking an increasing hand in strategy and messaging.

Some officials have questioned Parscale for regularly staying in Florida instead of working in Virginia, where the campaign is headquartered.

The president has also grown angry at times over how much money Parscale was making off the campaign, according to people familiar with the situation.

But the consensus was that the biggest blow he suffered in Trump’s eyes was over the Tulsa where Trump grew angry at the thousands of empty seats after Parscale heavily hyped the demand for tickets on social media.

Stepien faces a difficult challenge as Parscale’s replacement working for a president who has regularly disregarded campaign advisers recommendations and has seen his approval numbers fall due to his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and racial unrest across the country.

Stepien is expected to conduct an analysis of the campaign and could make changes in the coming weeks, according to people close to the campaign.

A politician who tends to keep his own counsel, Trump has filtered through a string of political advisers during his career and time in the White House. Trump fired Corey Lewandowski, the manager of his first presidential campaign, in June of 2016, at a similar point in the election cycle. The person elevated to take Lewandowski’s role, Paul Manafort, lasted about two more months before he resigned. He was replaced by Kellyanne Conway, who still advises Trump at the White House.

Trump’s new kitchen cabinet, a combination of White House and campaign employees led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, includes Stepien, and two communications aides from the 2016 campaign – Hope Hicks and Jason Miller, who was recently hired by the campaign and is increasingly seen as its principal strategist.

Miller and Stepien were talking with Trump almost every day in the week leading up to Trump’s pivotal July 3 speech at Mount Rushmore. Sometimes, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Chris Carr, the party’s political director, joined the conversations. Parscale, though, returned to his home in Florida after visiting Washington early in the week and continued to dial into conference calls, officials said.

Kushner for months had tried to protect Parscale, a close ally who he is viewed to control, but he is also seen as being close with Stepien.

Parscale was named campaign manager of the Trump reelection effort in early 2018, charged with building a data-driven, digital first campaign. People close to the campaign credited him with building a massive online fundraising operation early in the cycle.

He took an early public-facing role in the campaign, often addressing rallies before the president, having his name added as a “host” of high-dollar fundraising invites and even allowing the campaign to use his image in the first televised campaign ad that the campaign ran in 2020. In recent weeks, the campaign has advertised heavily through Parscale’s personal Facebook page, spending nearly $700,000 on spots that featured his name and image, in what campaign officials described as a successful test to increase the effectiveness of the advertising.

Trump struck in optimistic note about the presidential race ahead at the end of his message announcing the campaign shake up, although he wrongly claimed that polls were moving in his direction.

“This one should be a lot easier as our poll numbers are rising fast, the economy is getting better, vaccines and therapeutics will soon be on the way, and Americans want safe streets and communities!,” he wrote on Twitter.

 (c) 2020, The Washington Post · Josh Dawsey, Michael Scherer   



  1. It is the candidate not the campaign manager.
    Trump is the wrong man for this particular moment because his playbook and his appeal is anger and chaos, that’s what he sells. I think what America needs right now is empathy and competence… he can’t change that dynamic” – Charlie sykes

    Trumpism Corrupts: Wall Street Journal Edition
    When people show you who they are, you should believe them.
    by JONATHAN V. LAST JULY 16, 2020 2:41 PM

    The Wall Street Journal ran a strikingly oblique editorial on Thursday morning. I’m going to quote from it extensively and bold the phrases that are most interesting:

    President Trump’s coronavirus management ratings have been plummeting (67% disapproved in an ABC/Ipsos poll last week) and if a better public-relations plan is in the works, it’s not apparent. . . .

    The problem is that the White House seems to have given up on projecting any consistent virus message, and the descent into internal sniping amplifies a perception of dysfunction that is politically damaging.

    The media are propagating the view that the U.S. is a coronavirus basket case. In fact, the per-capita death rate remains lower than that of some major countries in Western Europe. . . .

    Mr. Trump’s messaging has caromed from saying the virus isn’t a problem, to the economy must shut down to crush it, to the economy must open and everything will soon go back to normal, to barely talking about it at all as cases rise. . . .

    This is a mess, and if it continues Republicans will be routed in November. . . .

    Today President Trump’s opponents can depict the White House as resigned, lacking direction, and more eager to disparage medical authorities than rally them to implement the Administration’s strategy. Time is running out to change that perception.
    What a remarkable piece of writing.

    Here is the Wall Street Journal editorial board’s listing of the Trump administration’s problems in regard to the novel coronavirus:

    They do not have “a better public relations plan.”
    They have “given up” on projecting a “consistent . . . message”—which by inference means that at one point the administration did project a consistent message.
    “The media” are propagating a view of poor outcomes in America.
    Trump’s “messaging” has caromed from one place to another.
    Trump’s opponents “can depict” the White House as failing.
    Time is running out to change that “perception.”
    If this “perception” is not changed, the result will be a “rout” for Republicans.
    What reality do the Wall Street Journal editors live in?

    Because nothing in this piece—not one single line—addresses the reality of the world as it exists.

    Instead, they are fixated on secondary, tertiary, and quaternary concerns: Public relations. Messaging. The media. Depictions. Perceptions.

    The real world is the one that matters.

    Not to put this indelicately, but as of this writing 137,234 Americans have died of the coronavirus. More will die today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.

    These deaths are not just human tragedies. They have economic impacts. They have social impacts. They influence the behaviors of citizens, irrespective of any government directions or mandates.

    Does the Wall Street Journal think that the country’s current situation is optimal?

    Does the Wall Street Journal think that the administration’s policies concerning the pandemic have been wise and efficacious?

    Does the Wall Street Journal believe that the migration of the virus to the South and West was preventable through different policy means?

    Does the Wall Street Journal have a sense of what the near-term progress of the virus will look like for Americans and how many deaths they can expect?

    Does the Wall Street Journal have a sense of how many dead bodies Americans should have expected at the outset of this crisis under reasonably competent federal management?

    And the answer is: Of course not.

    Because addressing any of these questions would mean evaluating the Trump administration’s actual performance in the real world.

    The only substantive “defense” the Journal editorial musters of the administration’s response is that a few countries in Western Europe have worse deaths-per-capita numbers.

    Set aside the fact that America shouldn’t be striving to have the ninth-worst death rate in the world—this metric does not even paint an accurate picture of reality. Because our death rate is continuing to get worse while the Western Europeans have actually bent their curves.

    Perhaps this is precisely because they are responsible countries taking virus containment seriously, and not quasi-failed states led by a reality-TV-show host who is only worried about perceptions and public relations and messaging and “the media.”

    But what is truly disgraceful about this editorial is that it does evince a single, solitary real-world concern.

    Not the mounting pile of corpses.

    Not the economic devastation on working families.

    No, here is the Wall Street Journal’s real-world concern: “if it continues Republicans will be routed in November.”

    The problem, you see, is not the 137,234 dead Americans.

    It’s that Republicans might lose an election.


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