With only 82 days left before Election Day, Donald Trump is shaking up his campaign once again.
Breitbart News’ executive chairman Stephen Bannon has been appointed as Trump’s new campaign CEO, and pollster Kellyanne Conway has been promoted to campaign manager, the GOP nominee’s campaign announced in a statement Wednesday.
“I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years. They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win,” Trump said in the statement. “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 our financial and physical security.”
Trump’s latest staff reshuffle is reportedly meant to rebuff his advisers’ recent attempts to make him more “presidential.”
Bannon, who was tapped to help “bolster the business-like approach” of Trump’s campaign, was “once recognized by Bloomberg Politics as the ‘most dangerous political operative in America,’ ” the statement added. He “will oversee the campaign staff and operations, in addition to strategic oversight of major campaign initiatives.”
The Bloomberg profile in question, published in 2015, said Bannon “sits at the nexus of what Hillary Clinton once dubbed ‘the vast right-wing conspiracy,’ where he and his network have done more than anyone else to complicate her presidential ambitions.”
What makes Bannon doubly dangerous is that he’s just as eager to take down establishment Republicans like Jeb Bush or John Boehner as he is Democrats like Clinton, Bloomberg reported.
“When Sarah Palin was at the height of her fame, Bannon was whispering in her ear. When Donald Trump decided to blow up the Republican presidential field, Bannon encouraged his circus-like visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. John Boehner just quit as House speaker because of the mutinous frenzy Bannon and his confederates whipped up among conservatives.”
“If there’s an explosion or a fire somewhere,” said Matthew Boyle, Breitbart’s Washington political editor, “Steve’s probably nearby with some matches.”
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Bannon’s hiring comes as Trump will receive his first classified intelligence briefing on Wednesday in New York – timing that doesn’t sit well with Republicans who are wary of Bannon’s tactics. Former Mitt Romney campaign adviser Stuart Stevens tweeted Wedesnday:
And Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy tweeted of right-wing radio host Glenn Beck:
Though Trump’s top adviser, Paul Manafort, will retain his title of campaign chairman, advisers who spoke with The Washington Post “described his status internally as diminished due to Trump’s unhappiness and restlessness in recent weeks” as Manafort pushed the GOP nominee to soften his style for the general election.
Manafort made headlines this week for his alleged ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Manafort illegally “helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012.”
Trump’s campaign shakeup also comes as he is falling in polls. He now trails Clinton by 9 and 14 points, respectively, in polls of registered voters in the key battleground states of Florida and Virginia.
But Trump’s new hirings might be more about doing things his way, come what may, than they are about winning. Wrote the Post, “It sent a signal, perhaps more clearly than ever, that the real-estate magnate intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side.”