Not the first time that Stone has complained publicly about Team Trump being out-organized, and not the first time, oddly, that he’s used pro-Trump Breitbart to do it. How come? Why would a man who has Trump’s cell phone number insist on knocking his team’s capabilities in print instead of complaining to the boss himself?
The woman who ran Wisconsin for Trump previously ran Oklahoma for Trump. Trump lost. Prior to that, she had never run any political campaign, so there was no depth of experience. This is something I see again and again, particularly at the ground roots level. Now, I salute these people for their enthusiasm, but this is a science. This is not something we guess about. And now you move to a [series] of states like Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona [which] should be watched very carefully. And those become hand-to-hand combat at state conventions or state committee meetings, where once again the Trump people have built no infrastructure.
Why Trump didn’t pay more attention to organization, especially since he supposedly began thinking of running in 2016 several years ago, may be the great unsolved mystery of the campaign. But back to the question up top — why would a Trump loyalist like Stone, who’s gone so far as to threaten anti-Trump delegates on his pal’s behalf, feel obliged to talk up the campaign’s shortcomings in print? Stone’s heavily invested in the idea that it’d be “cheating” to “steal” the nomination from Trump if he finishes the primaries with the most delegates, yet every time he chirps about their lack of preparation he undermines the moral force of that argument. Is Cruz cheating, or is he just a better card player than Trump? The answer, I’d guess, has to do with the alleged power struggle within the Trump campaign last year that saw Stone and fellow advisor Sam Nunberg exit. According to New York magazine, Stone and Nunberg wanted Trump to invest more in — ta da — campaign infrastructure, but they were opposed by — ta da — Corey Lewandowski, who thought “that their current [media-heavy] approach was working fine.” Stone attacking Team Trump for not being better prepared for the long haul is, I assume, his way of telling Lewandowski “I told you so” in a visible way, on a site he knows is read by Trump fans.
Stone and Nunberg aren’t the only Trump allies to find themselves being muscled out by Lewandowski either, if you believe Politico. If this is accurate, it’s a big deal:
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.”
Manafort’s the general tasked with winning the delegate war with Cruz. If he and his team quit due to tensions with Lewandowski, Cruz will be fighting for delegates virtually unopposed, making Trump’s task of getting a majority on the first ballot in Cleveland that much harder. Remember, it’s probable that Trump will finish close to 1,237 delegates after the final primaries are held but will still need to pick up some unbound delegates here and there to cross the finish line. Having Manafort onboard may be the difference in whether that happens or not, yet Lewandowski inexplicably is messing around by playing authority games with him among their deputies.
One “high-level Trump supporter,” which may or may not be code for Roger Stone himself, told Politico, “Hopefully this wakes up the candidate, because Lewandowski can’t handle it from here.” It’s not just Politico either: NBC also has a story today about infighting in the campaign — “Certain people don’t want to lose power” — and warnings about mismanagement by Trump’s most prominent staffer. Quote: “[S]ources close to the candidate said Lewandowski has not been able to deliver tough advice to Trump when he needs it and doesn’t have the authority to demand that he be comprehensively prepared for interviews or public appearances.” Imagine the irony if Lewandowski, who’s become a lightning rod for anti-Trumpers after the Michelle Fields incident, ends up being their best friend first by shielding Trump from smart advice early in the campaign to build a more robust organization and later by alienating people like Manafort who might be their last best chance of winning the nomination. I bet Stone will have lots to say about him if it happens.