Donald Trump’s national field director quit late last night as the billionaire businessman made changes to his campaign apparatus on the eve of an important primary vote in New York.
Stuart Jolly is a retired Army Lieutenant who came to the Trump campaign as a close ally of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski . They both worked at Americans For Prosperity and joined the Trump campaign during it’s infancy.
The New York Times interprets the shake-up as a bad sign for Lewandowski:
But the resignation was seen as a sign of distress among those loyal to Mr. Lewandowski about recent changes in the campaign that have curtailed his influence after a string of losses in states like Wisconsin and at state conventions to select delegates.
Mr. Jolly, whose first national campaign experience came this cycle under Mr. Trump and who was deployed to help the campaign in New Hampshire primary after a disappointing second-place finish in Iowa, also reminisced about Mr. Trump’s early victories, which helped transform the Manhattan businessman from something of a political joke into a serious contender.
Indeed, Trump’s recent losses to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have been seen as an indication that the lack of traditional ground game and electoral strategy has taken a significant toll on the campaign’s ability to lock up the requisite 1,237 delegates to secure the Republican nomination on the first ballot.
Politico has details on a campaign staff meeting this past Saturday where major changes were announced:
In a shakeup that’s roiling Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the GOP front-runner told senior staffers at a Saturday meeting that he wants his recent hires Paul Manafort and Rick Wiley to take the reins in upcoming states, giving them a $20-million budget for key contests in May and June, according to three sources with knowledge of the meeting.
The spending authorization, which covers most of the month of May, is far more than the campaign has spent in any prior month, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The cash infusion — which the sources said is intended to fund an aggressive advertising push, as well as more staff at Trump’s New York headquarters and in upcoming states — is part of an effort by the billionaire to expand and professionalize a shoestring operation that had mostly gotten by on the strength of free media exposure and a small core team.
But sources inside the Trump campaign said the moves are increasingly alienating staff loyal to the original team headed by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, which had guided Trump from the political fringe to the precipice of the GOP presidential nomination with relatively little campaign infrastructure or spending.
These moves as well as Trump’s absence on network Sunday shows for the past two weeks give the impression that campaign veteran Manafort has taken the reigns and directed Trump to scale back on some of the off-the-cuff behaviors that have gotten the campaign negative coverage in the past.
But, there’s a danger in this, isn’t there?
To many voters, Trump’s penchant for politically incorrect (if not politically damaging) statements and actions are what draw them to him. They love that he is not your typical blow-dried, talking-point-laden, robotic political animal. They love that he does all the things a politician isn’t supposed to do. They love that he says all the things a politician isn’t supposed to say.
In fact, at Trump’s rally in Buffalo last night, that’s exactly what Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan said inspired him to endorse him:
So is it really a smart move to put Trump in a box? Is it wise to change strategies now, after defying all the DC pundits and experts like Manafort up until now?
Shouldn’t the Trump campaign simply let Donald be Donald?