TETERBORO, N.J. (AP) — Republican Donald Trump has shaken up his campaign again, it was revealed Wednesday, bringing in Breitbart News’ Stephen Bannon as CEO and promoting pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager.
The move comes just 82 days before the November election and represents yet another overhaul of the organization in a tumultuous quest for the White House.
In a brief phone interview with The Associated Press early Wednesday, Trump confirmed the news, calling the pair “big people” whom he said would help him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the fall.
“I’ve known both of them for a long time. They’re terrific people, they’re winners, they’re champs, and we need to win it,” said the billionaire real estate mogul.
Campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who formally took over the reins following the departure of Corey Lewandowski in June, will maintain his current title, Trump said.
Manafort deputy Rick Gates, who has been traveling often with Trump, is expected to maintain a senior role with the campaign.
The news comes as opinion surveys show Trump trailing his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton nationally and in a host of key battleground states.
Trump long has resisted pleas from fellow Republicans to overhaul the flame-throwing approach on the campaign trail that powered his surge to the top of the GOP field in the primary season. Instead of working to broaden his appeal, Trump has largely hewed to the large rallies and attention-grabbing comments that appealed to the Republican base.
“You know, I am who I am,” he told a local Wisconsin television station Tuesday. “It’s me. I don’t want to change. Everyone talks about, `Oh, well you’re going to pivot, you’re going to.’ I don’t want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
Conway called the moves “an expansion at a critical time in the homestretch.”
Details of the new pecking order were hashed out at a lengthy senior staff meeting at Trump Tower Tuesday while Trump was on the road. Additional senior hires are expected in the next few days.
Trump, whose campaign is built on his persona as a winner, said several time that the campaign is “doing well,” and said his speech hours earlier in Wisconsin Tuesday was well-received.
“We’re going to be doing something very dramatic,” Trump added.
The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
In the Wisconsin outing, Trump accused Clinton of “bigotry” and being “against the police,” claiming that she and other Democrats have “betrayed the African American community” and pandered for votes.
“We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton, which panders to and talks down to communities of color and sees them only as votes — that’s all they care about,” the GOP nominee said in remarks delivered not far from Milwaukee — the latest city to be rocked by violence in the wake of a police shooting.
Trump has been lagging in the polls since he was crowned the GOP standard-bearer in Cleveland last month. He charged that Clinton has been on the side of the rioters in Milwaukee, declaring: “Our opponent Hillary would rather protect the offender than the victim.”
“The riots and destruction that have taken place in Milwaukee is an assault on the right of all citizens to live in security and to live in peace,” he said.
Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri responded with a statement early Wednesday accusing Trump of being the bigot instead.
“With each passing Trump attack, it becomes clearer that his strategy is just to say about Hillary Clinton what’s true of himself. When people started saying he was temperamentally unfit, he called Hillary the same. When his ties to the Kremlin came under scrutiny, he absurdly claimed that Hillary was the one who was too close to Putin. Now he’s accusing her of bigoted remarks — We think the American people will know which candidate is guilty of the charge,” she said.
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