Politico is reporting that Jim Murphy, Donald Trump’s national political director is stepping back from the campaign less than three weeks before election day. From Politico:
“I have not resigned but for personal reasons have had to take a step back from the campaign,” Murphy said in a statement to POLITICO. He did not elaborate on the reasons for his departure.
Several Trump aides said that Murphy has been conspicuously absent in recent days as the campaign mobilizes for the final push.
There are three possibilities here that strike me as the most plausible explanation for what, on its face, is an unusual move at this late date.
Possibility one is that Murphy is abandoning a sinking ship. Perhaps he has been frustrated with how things have been going for a while and simply reached his limit. If so, this statement would be a way of downplaying what is potentially a very bad sign about confidence within the campaign. In line with that thought, George Takei offered this sarcastic take on the news:
Jim Murphy, Trump's Nat'l Political Director, has "stepped back" from campaign duties. Must be all that winning, hard for anyone to handle.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 20, 2016
Possibility two is that Murphy was fired. In this scenario it’s not Murphy that was fed up (at least not just Murphy) it was the campaign that was fed up with him. Again, it would be easy to explain his terse statement as trying not to rock the boat this close to the election. Obviously if the headlines become “Last minute shakeup of Trump campaign” that doesn’t look very good this close to the election.
Possibility three is that Murphy really does have some personal problem completely unrelated to politics which has forced him to step away. If so it would have to be pretty serious, perhaps a major illness in the family or something of that nature. Obviously, I hope that’s not the case for his sake but if it is, then there’s really nothing to parse in his statement.
Given how many people would be involved in scenarios one or two (he quit or he was fired) I wouldn’t expect it to stay quiet for very long.
Murphy joined the campaign in June after previous political director Rick Wiley was fired having served just two months in the job.