Well, it was on before, too, so the news that Donald Trump plans to run for re-election isn’t exactly a shocker. Trump formed his 2020 campaign organization shortly after taking office, and the White House announced in June 2017 that Trump would vie for a second term … just like every other first-termer since LBJ. However, Drudge, CBS, and CNN report that Trump has begun to staff up the 2020 campaign, appointing his former digital chief Brad Parscale to the top spot:
“I have confirmed through sources very close to this always-existing re-election campaign in 2020 that there is now a campaign manager, Brad Parscale,” @MajorCBS reports https://t.co/pRJivA9ZSd pic.twitter.com/X49aEPgtBu
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 27, 2018
President Donald Trump has hired Brad Parscale, the digital media director of his 2016 campaign, to run his 2020 campaign, a source with knowledge tells CNN.
The announcement was initially hyped by The Drudge Report, a website run by Matt Drudge, a conservative figure with considerable influence inside the White House. But it was no surprise that Trump will run for re-election in 2020 — he filed shortly after his 2017 inauguration — but it is unusual for a sitting president to hire a campaign manager three years before the election.
CNN also notes that Parscale’s work in the 2016 campaign went far beyond his job description:
Parscale’s formal title during the Trump 2016 campaign was digital director, but behind the scenes he grew into much more: directing campaign spending on television ads as well as digital, building a small dollar donor operation, and having significant influence on the overall campaign working closely with then-Republican National Committee chief of staff Katie Walsh and the RNC get out the vote operation.
On digital advertising, Parscale brought Facebook employees into the campaign to better take advantage of social media to promote Trump, and tear down Hillary Clinton.
At the time, Parscale told CBS’ Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes last year, Trump balked at the expenditures, shouting that he didn’t believe in digital “mumbo jumbo.” Trump’s a convert now, though, and has rewarded Parscale with the top job, perhaps in large part because of his innovations in this field. For instance, he also explained how he got Facebook and Google employees embedded in the Trump campaign and how he used that to Trump’s advantage:
The choice of Parscale hints that Jared Kushner will remain a significant part of Trump’s political apparatus. That’s not exactly a surprise either, but it’s worth noting as issues about Kushner’s finances and lack of security clearance percolate. Parscale came into the Trump campaign through Kushner, and it’s almost certain that Trump will want them to work closely together again. If Kushner gets too radioactive in his current White House position, Parscale’s presence as the leader of the re-election campaign might offer Kushner a soft exit, if Trump decides he needs one.
The 2020 campaign is underway. Let’s hope that Trump and his team don’t lose focus on 2018, though. Barack Obama took his eyes off the ball in 2010, and it didn’t work out well for either Obama or Democrats.