Yesterday, Moe Lane posted on the growing discord in the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign has never been accused of being a highly organized and smoothly functioning organization. Rather it is the product of a mediocre intelligence who hires sub-mediocrities and gives them instructions. POLITICO provided a lot of behind-the-scenes detail that only starts coming out when the rats start using the deck chairs for flotation devices:
Since March, the campaign has been laying off field staff en masse around the country and has dismantled much of what existed of its organizations in general-election battlegrounds, including Florida and Ohio.
Last month, the campaign laid off the leader of its data team, Matt Braynard, who did not train a successor. It elevated his No. 2, a data engineer with little prior high-level political strategy experience, and also shifted some of his team’s duties to a 2015 college graduate whose last job was an internship with the consumer products company Colgate-Palmolive. Some of the campaign’s data remains inaccessible.
Only four of 11 Iowa staffers continued on after Trump lost that state’s caucuses in February. More recently, most of Trump’s South Carolina, Florida and Ohio teams have not had their contracts renewed, according to a person familiar with the campaign, who said the lack of organization in Florida was putting Trump at a disadvantage in the delegate selection process.
While Trump’s South Carolina coalitions director, Nancy Mace, remains on payroll and is organizing in Wisconsin, most of the rest of Trump’s South Carolina team did not have their contracts renewed. Following a bout of illness in late February, Myrtle Beach area Tea Party activist Gerri McDaniel, who organized for Trump in Horry County, which the mogul carried with roughly half of the vote, was let go by National Field Director Stuart Jolly in early March, shortly after he assumed authority over field staffing decisions, according to a person familiar with the incident.
Now we’re seeing open warfare break out between Donald Trump’s campaign manager, the elfin, small-handed bully Corey Lewandowki and the Russian mob connected fixer, Paul Manafort. Manafort was brought on board, allegedly, to manage the delegate fight at the convention. (As an aside, hiring someone to manage the convention delegate fight seems pretty stupid when you are firing the people responsible for delegate selection in the states before they do their job, but what do I know?)
Behind the scenes, Lewandowski is fighting to preserve his own power and to box out Paul Manafort, who was hired last month to lead the campaign’s delegate corralling effort. “Corey and his people know the knives are out for them,” said one source close to the campaign, referring to Manafort as a “pretty experienced in-fighter.”
On Saturday, Lewandowski went as far as to fire a young operative named James Baker, who’d been recently put in charge of its Colorado campaign—he’d arrived in the state less than 48 hours earlier—because he’d been communicating with Manafort after Lewandowski instructed him not to do so, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed.
Manafort is scheduled to meet with Trump in New York Wednesday morning and likely to threaten to quit if he doesn’t see more cooperation, according to one source. “If Manafort walks, this thing comes apart,” they said. “And some of the people close to him are ready to walk.”
The landslide loss in Wisconsin could finally prompt Trump to make changes in the campaign structure, even if Lewandowski retains his title as campaign manager. “This campaign has outgrown the team,” one high-level Trump supporter said. “Hopefully this wakes up the candidate, because Lewandowski can’t handle it from here.”
In reality, Lewandowski is a dead man walking. His assault on former Trumpbart reporter Michelle Fields simply greased the skids. He has seen his role shrink to something approximating his shoe size:
In early March, Lewandowski ceded authority over many hiring decisions to a lower-ranking staffer. In recent days, the campaign’s press office has been overruling his decisions about issuing credentials for campaign events. Going forward, Trump’s just-named convention manager, Paul Manafort, is expected to take a leading role not just in the selection of delegates, but also in the remaining primaries themselves, according to three people on or close to the campaign.
The shift is, in part, a natural outgrowth of the campaign’s maturation. But according to sources close to the campaign, it’s also at least partly the result of long-simmering concerns among some members of Trump’s inner circle about Lewandowski’s lack of national experience, his perceived unwillingness to challenge Trump and his brash temperament.
After last night, it is hard to see what compelling case Lewandowski can make that he actually knows what the hell he is doing.
In a real bureaucratic in-fight, Manafort will destroy Lewandowki but to what end? The wheels have basically come off the Trump Train. He is bleeding candidates from Louisiana, where he won the popular vote. He has been soundly beaten in four state contests in a row. The odds of him being able to win a first ballot victory at the GOP convention approach nil and his delegate slate is so larded with Cruz loyalists that he will lose a large number, if not a majority, of his delegates on the second ballot. Manafort may be convinced his
Russian mob connections experience will let him steer Trump to the nomination. If so, he’s just the kind of bloated ego who will fit in nicely in the Trump organization.
But if it si to be war, let’s hope it is red war, bloody war, war to the knife. A war characterized by a protracted struggle with lots of hard feelings, recriminations, and the settling of grievances in the media.