Battered by falling poll numbers and an erratic message, Donald Trump tried to right his presidential campaign Wednesday by adding two senior advisors and effectively demoting his campaign manager.
The overhaul marked Trump’s second top-level shake-up in two months, and comes as the GOP nominee faces what increasingly appears to be an uphill general election race against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Who are Trump’s new top advisors?
Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, will assume the new position of campaign chief executive. Kellyanne Conway, who already served as an advisor, was promoted to campaign manager.
Paul Manafort, the campaign manager since the last shake-up, remains campaign chairman but is expected to lose some of his clout. The moves were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
What is their background?
Bannon is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker turned Hollywood producer. The Laguna Beach resident and former Navy officer made a name for himself in conservative circles by producing laudatory films about Sarah Palin, the outspoken Alaska governor who ran for vice president on the GOP ticket in 2008, and other public figures.
While making a film about Ronald Reagan called “In the Face of Evil,” Bannon met conservative author and blogger Andrew Breitbart. Bannon ultimately became chairman of Breitbart News.
Conway is an attorney and GOP pollster who got her start in the Reagan era. She founded her own polling company in 1995 with a goal of helping Republican candidates better connected with women.
What is their political experience?
Bannon has never worked on a political campaign, no less helped run a presidential campaign. He is known for a pugilistic style that dovetails with Trump’s brash temperament but it may clash with Trump’s purported efforts to display a more presidential temperament.
Under Brannon, Breitbart News has strongly supported Trump and been highly critical of the GOP establishment. It openly supported the novice Republican who tried — and failed — to unseat House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in a Wisconsin primary race.
Conway is a veteran GOP strategist whose prior clients include Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and unsuccessful Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, who created headlines in 2012 by arguing that women couldn’t get pregnant when they were raped because their bodies shut down.
What is their relationship with Trump?
Under Bannon’s direction, Breitbart News has provided highly favorable coverage of Trump’s 2016 campaign. During the primaries, when Trump’s then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused of assaulting a Breitbart reporter, Bannon sided with the campaign’s denial of any wrongdoing. Some reporters quit his organization in protest.
Conway first met Trump in 2006, when she was on the condo board of Trump Tower in New York City. He tried to get her to join his campaign last year, but she worked instead for a super PAC that supported his rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
After Cruz dropped out of the race, Conway moved over to Trump’s campaign as a senior adviser and pollster. She was hired, in part, to help him win support from women.
In a profile in the Washington Post last month, Conway said she tries to influence Trump by offering suggestions rather than by giving orders, which he would find insulting. She said she doesn’t like Trump’s habit of calling rivals and critics crude names.
“Maybe,” she told the Post, “it’s just the mother in me.”
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