Trump cam­paign im­proves

Lesotho Times - - International - —

NEW YORK — In the two weeks since fir­ing his cam­paign man­ager, Don­ald Trump has made progress in pro­fes­sion­al­iz­ing his thread­bare White House cam­paign, but trou­bles re­main.

Since part­ing ways with cam­paign man­ager Corey Le­wandowsi on June 20, the Trump team has swiftly ex­panded its op­er­a­tions and broad­ened its ties to the rest of the Repub­li­can Party. Oper­a­tives de­scribe a more ef­fi­cient in­te­gra­tion with Trump’s cam­paign.

The GOP con­ven­tion staff said in­ter­nal bot­tle­necks have been cleared, the RNC said ef­forts to align the two or­ga­ni­za­tions were pro­gress­ing bet­ter than ever, and Repub­li­cans on Capi­tol Hill saw for the first time some­one they could work with. “There is no ques­tion it’s been a lot eas­ier get­ting things done,” said one se­nior Repub­li­can in­volved in the con­ven­tion plan­ning.

Trump’s fo­cus on trade pol­icy, and his crit­i­cism of the Clin­ton trade record, drew plau­dits from many in the party — even from some who dis­agree ve­he­mently with him on his pro­tec­tion­ist poli­cies.

Last Tues­day’s speech at an alu­minum pro­cess­ing plant in blue-col­lar Western Penn­syl­va­nia promised a pie-in-the-sky re­ver­sal of decades of man­u­fac­tur­ing de­clines across nearly ev­ery in­dus­try.

His praise of the UK’S vote to leave the Euro­pean Union and calls for a host of tar­iffs on for­eign im­ports pro­vided the most co­her­ent vi­sion of his plans in of­fice.

But the chal­lenge of mount­ing a gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign, es­sen­tially from noth­ing, and it is clear that Trump still has a ways to go to even out the rough edges of his op­er­a­tion.

While Hil­lary Clin­ton fills her events with signs that speak to her mes­sage of the day, Trump spoke in front of bales of re­cy­clables and trash — a re­flec­tion of his cam­paign’s ram­shackle op­er­a­tion that has strug­gled to at­tract top-tier tal­ent across all de­part­ments.

While his cam­paign has taken greater con­trol of his Twit­ter ac­count, send­ing out mes­sages not in his voice with greater fre­quency, Trump still has the abil­ity to at­tract un­wanted at­ten­tion.

Last Satur­day, he tweeted a meme that at­tacked Clin­ton us­ing the Star of David, a sym­bol of Ju­daism, which was later found to have been cre­ated by a Twit­ter ac­count that traf­fics in racist jokes. The im­age has since been deleted from Trump’s ac­count.

Be­hind the scenes, the op­er­a­tion is still staffing up. Since Le­wandowski’s exit, Trump’s cam­paign brought on Ja­son Miller as its se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­vi­sor.

The Ted Cruz veteran was the first of more than 100 Cruz staffers to move over to Trump’s team. They also brought in GOP poll­ster Kellyanne Con­way, who worked for a pro-cruz su­per PAC, and for­mer Rand Paul ad­vi­sor Michael Bi­undo.

Oth­ers con­tinue to leave the Trump cir­cle. Vin­cent Har­ris, dig­i­tal strate­gist whose firm has worked for Paul and Cruz, joined the cam­paign be­fore be­ing pushed out on sus­pi­cion of leak­ing his own hir­ing, two cam­paign sources said.

Last Fri­day, two mem­bers of Trump’s sur­ro­gate op­er­a­tion, Kevin Kellems and Erica Free­man, left the cam­paign. Free­man, a for­mer aide to Mike Huck­abee, worked for Trump from Arkansas and was over­ruled pub­licly by the can­di­date on a con­fer­ence call last month. Kellems had dif­fer­ences of opin­ion with some in the ever-chang­ing or­bit of aides around Trump.

“While brief, it has been an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and I am proud of the con­tri­bu­tions made to our early phase project en­deav­ors,” he wrote in a res­ig­na­tion let­ter dis­trib­uted to some staff mem­bers.

Repub­li­can crit­ics of Trump re­main skep­ti­cal that he can build a qual­ity or­ga­ni­za­tion in time for the elec­tion. “Trump is over a year be­hind Hil­lary in staffing,” said Tim Miller, the for­mer Jeb Bush com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor who was a se­nior ad­vi­sor to a #Nev­ertrump su­per PAC.

“Hir­ing a few old semi-pros look­ing for an­other shot at the big leagues won’t change the deeply flawed can­di­date or the far, far, far over-matched op­po­si­tion. This is the Yan­kees vs the Spring­field Iso­topes.”

A se­nior Trump aide sought to min­i­mize the fo­cus on the staff, say­ing out­side crit­ics con­tinue to over­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of staff and lo­gis­tics in the Trump strat­egy. “This isn’t staff-driven or cam­paign peo­ple or new peo­ple or old peo­ple or any­thing like that,” said the aide. “We’re talk­ing about a can­di­date who’s dif­fer­ent from any­thing we’ve ever seen in our life­times and this is his cam­paign.”

But there is lit­tle doubt that Paul Manafort, who has taken the reins of the cam­paign, now has un-chal­lenged in­flu­ence and the new blood has brought out a more fo­cused can­di­date, even if some of the dys­func­tion re­mains. In the most im­por­tant shift, Trump has bowed to their de­mands to be­gin de­liv­er­ing pre­pared re­marks.

“I’m start­ing to love those teleprompters,” Trump said Fri­day in Den­ver, of the de­vices he now uses for most speeches — and whose use he fa­mously ridiculed through­out the GOP pri­mary.

But his bom­bast flows freely when he speaks off the cuff in in­ter­views and in cam­paign rally ad-libs.

Over the last week, the well-re­garded trade fo­cus was mud­dled by his un­scripted com­ments about re­new­ing wa­ter­board­ing and tor­ture, and ex­press­ing open­ness to re­mov­ing hi­jab-wear­ing TSA em­ploy­ees from work.

Repub­li­can can­di­date Don­ald Trump.

Some of Trump sup­port­ers at one of his cam­paigns. — File pic­ture.

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