Donald Trump’s presidential campaign took a dramatic turn with the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Monday, June 20.
“The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican Primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The New York Times in a statement.
“The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future.”
Lewandowski had worked with Trump since the real estate mogul announced his presidential campaign over a year ago.
Under Lewandowski’s leadership, the campaign rose from being an outlier to being a leader in the polls. However, after Lewandowski was charged with simple battery—which was later dropped—against reporter Michelle Fields in March, Trump hired Paul Manafort, an experienced general election campaigner, signaling a move to a national campaign.
Manafort wanted to change Trump’s behavior to be more “presidential,” while Lewandowski has always encouraged the motto: “Let Trump Be Trump.”
The tension between Lewandowski and Manafort divided the Trump campaign and it turned into a “cage fight,” an operative close to the campaign told Politico las month.
Talking to The Associated Press, Lewandowski deflected any criticism of his approach, pointing instead to campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
“Paul Manafort has been in operational control of the campaign since April 7. That’s a fact,” said Lewandowski, declining to elaborate on his dismissal.
Michael Caputo, a senior adviser and the director of Trump’s New York campaign, tweeted out minutes after the announcement of Lewandowski’s departure, “Ding dong the witch is dead.”
The tweet was accompanied with an iconic picture of the Wicked Witch of the East’s slippers under Dorothy’s house, and a Youtube clip to the song from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.”
— Michael Caputo (@MichaelRCaputo) June 20, 2016
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee added that he “hate[s] the concept of profiling, but we have to use common sense” over “political correctness.”
Republican strategist Ryan Williams, a frequent Trump critic, said Lewandowski’s dismissal “is the first major public admission from Donald Trump that his campaign is not going well.”
“This shows donors, activists and party officials that he is willing to make significant changes, even if it means parting ways with a trusted political aide,” Williams told The Associated Press. “Now Trump needs to demonstrate that he is willing to change his own approach by toning down his rhetoric and becoming a more disciplined general election candidate.”
Trump Dropping in Polls
Trump’s shakeup in leadership comes as his polling numbers dropped last week and he gears up for a general election fight with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
While Trump has seen a 4 percent drop in average polls since May 25, dropping from 43 to 39 percent, Clinton’s polling numbers have remained consistent between 35 and 43 percent.
Trump’s recent drop in the polls began after he was questioned whether the judge overseeing two class action lawsuits against Trump University would be able to judge fairly because he is Mexican. Judge Gonzalo Curiel was born in Indiana. The drop was compounded by his response to the terror attack in a Florida nightclub that killed 49 people on June 12.
Over the weekend, the NRA criticized Trump for suggesting it would have been a “beautiful sight” if the club goers were armed and had killed the attacker.
Chris Cox, spokesman for the NRA, who last month endorsed Trump, said that the presumptive nominee’s suggestion “defies common sense.”
“No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms,” NRA lobbyist Chris Cox told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “That defies common sense. It also defies the law. It’s not what we’re talking about here.”
Trump, on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” said Muslim Americans should be racially profiled.
“We really have to look at profiling,” Trump said. ”It’s not the worst thing to do.”