For the second time in less than two months, Donald Trump has announced major changes to his campaign staff.
The Republican presidential nominee promoted Republican pollster and Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway to the role of campaign manager, and Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of the media outlet Breitbart, to CEO of the Trump campaign.
The changes to the campaign, which came 83 days ahead of November’s election, also reduced the role of Chairman Paul Manafort, who became the top person in the campaign after campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was fired in June this year.
Manafort has advocated a more traditional campaign, while Lewandowski led with the philosophy of “let Trump be Trump.” The hiring of Conway and Bannon, both outspoken anti-establishment critics, could return Trump’s strategy to the combative style seen during the primaries under Lewandowski.
“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 a statement.
Already a lead adviser in the Trump campaign, Conway fills the campaign manager slot that had been vacant after Lewandowski was fired, and her main role will be messaging for the campaign.
“Kellyanne is a tremendous asset to our rapidly expanding campaign team. She is a data and messaging expert and terrific on TV. It is great to have her on board,” Trump said in a statement outlining Conway’s role in the campaign.
Conway worked for years as president and CEO of The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend and has been a regular surrogate for the Trump campaign on Fox News, CNN, and other networks.
She also worked for a super PAC that supported Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during his presidential campaign. Cruz was Trump’s main rival during the primaries and refused to endorse the Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in July.
Stephen K. Bannon
Following the unexpected death of Breitbart founder Andrew Breitbart at age 43 in 2012, Bannon was promoted to become executive director of the website, which is known for its strong anti-establishment attitudes towards mainstream media sources and establishment politics.
Before working for Breitbart, Bannon worked for Huffington Post and was an investment banker for Goldman Sachs. He also has a lengthy record as a movie producer, having produced 16 films, including the 2011 documentary “The Undefeated” about Sarah Palin’s rise in the political world.
Bannon is also founding chairman of the nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), which is staffed by forensic investigators, lawyers, and data scientists.
The GAI’s investigations led to the publication of “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” by Peter Schweizer—a book often cited by the Trump campaign.
Paul Manafort’s Role
Manafort’s demotion came just days after a New York Times article claimed that he received nearly $13 million in cash payments from former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s political party. An Associated Press article days later claimed that he routed millions of dollars from the Ukrainian government to Washington lobbyists.
The campaign chairman vehemently denied the New York Times report, describing it as “silly and nonsensical.”
Manafort role on the campaign’s staff was reduced due to Trump’s feeling of being “boxed in” and “controlled” by Manafort’s attempts to make him a more traditional candidate, according to aides who spoke with The Washington Post.
The campaign downplayed the timing of the staff shake-up with Trump’s decline in poll numbers, citing the changes as the next phase in the campaign which is about to run its first major general election television spots on Friday, Aug. 19.
“These announcements come at a time of significant growth for Mr. Trump’s campaign, with the first major TV ad buy of the general election slated to start later this week and with additional top-flight operatives joining the movement on a near-daily basis,” the campaign said in a statement.