Will Brad Parscale step down as chair of Team Trump after the less-than-spectacular rally in Tulsa this weekend? “The blame game has shifted into high gear,” writes Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair, and Parscale is the obvious executive for accountability. According to Sherman, it’s so obvious that Parscale doesn’t plan to belabor the point for much longer — and he may not be alone, either:
“Brad really shit the bed Saturday night. You have to remember, execution is 95% of presidential politics,” a Republican close to the White House told me over the weekend. Parscale committed a cascade of errors, from overhyping expected turnout to blaming the half-filled arena on protesters. Trump was so furious when he saw how thin the crowd was that he threatened to not go onstage, two sources briefed on the discussions told me. The sources said that Parscale, reading the tea leaves, is planning to step down. “He knows he can’t survive,” one source told me.
Allahpundit wrote extensively yesterday about the fallout from the lightly attended rally. In other reporting, it appeared that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka were driving Parscale out of the campaign. According to Sherman, however, Jared might be the next casualty. Kushner has run the family side of the campaign, and Parscale’s flop might be Jared’s problem, too:
Trump insiders told me Trump was presented with five options of where to hold his rally. “The president chose Tulsa,” a source said. Sources also told me that if Parscale is forced out, he likely won’t be the only casualty of the rally fiasco. Trump is debating revoking his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s control over the campaign, sources said. As I previously reported, Trump has been frustrated with Kushner’s oversight of the campaign in light of polling that consistently shows Trump losing to Joe Biden. Another source of friction has been campaign spending and reports Trump has gotten that Parscale is making millions of dollars. “Did Jared allow this?” Trump asked advisers recently, according to a source. (Kushner declined to comment.)
For what it’s worth, Axios’ Jonathan Swan — who’s usually pretty dialed in — thinks that the reporting on Parscale’s departure is incorrect:
I’m always prepared to be embarrassed by a President but pretty sure this is wrong. People who work with Brad and are close to him say they feel like they would have heard about this. https://t.co/kPYxYn1mBx
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) June 23, 2020
If Swan’s right, perhaps Jared has nothing to worry about either, but it’s not as if the operation is running smoothly at the moment. Fundraising has been good, even in the pandemic, but Joe Biden and the DNC beat Trump and the RNC for the first time last month:
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, ahead in national and many swing-state polls, also has pulled in front of President Trump in the monthly money race, outraising the president by about $7 million in May, according to the campaigns.
Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee announced Saturday that they’d collected $74 million last month. Mr. Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee said earlier that they had raised a combined $81 million over that span. Mr. Biden’s May haul outpaced former President Obama’s re-election fundraising in the same month in 2012 by about $20 million. …
Mr. Trump’s allies reported about $265 million in available cash. Mr. Biden’s campaign and the DNC haven’t disclosed their latest cash-on-hand number, but the entities had about $100 million in the bank at the end of April, earlier fundraising reports show.
The Trump and Biden election efforts had raised about the same amount in April; Mr. Trump and the RNC brought it $61.7 million, while Mr. Biden and the DNC collected $60.5 million.
Put that together with the polling tumble and the disappointment in Tulsa this weekend, and the man famous for needing to win at all times might well have gotten frustrated enough for a campaign shake-up. At the very least, Trump might want a full accounting of the money and the personnel while the summer season starts.
If he’s going to act, Trump had better do so quickly. Time is running out for any kind of major changes in the campaign structure. There is only two months left before the convention, and now that has become a lot more complicated with the split between Charlotte and Jacksonville. The campaign itself will have to carry a heavier load dealing with the logistics of the convention plan, which means anyone replacing Parscale would have to come up to speed quickly.
Assuming Parscale goes, the choice of replacement will indicate just how much control Jared has left, Sherman writes:
Top candidates include 2016 veterans [Jason] Miller, David Bossie, and Corey Lewandowski, all of whom Kushner successfully kept on the outer fringe of Trumpworld. “We can’t allow Jared’s stupid disagreements to get in the way,” Trump recently told advisers, according to a source briefed on the conversation.
Maybe, but there’s reason to be skeptical about all three of those figures, too. Parscale at least had serious experience in the data side of campaigning. Those three make pretty good surrogates for media hits, but can they manage a presidential campaign? One has to wonder whether Ronna McDaniel might weigh in with more solid recommendations at some point.
Or, perhaps Trump will keep Parscale in place, but add someone to the top of the structure to “split duties” while painting it as an expansion. At this point, it might be too late for anything else, especially given all the logistical challenges this summer.
Update: Parscale seemed to have Sherman’s report in mind with this comment:
An anonymous source told me that an anonymous source said that another person on background said that someone told them that they know what is happening and it will be a breaking story once they confirm with another anonymous source.
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) June 22, 2020
Time will tell, but just because something didn’t happen immediately doesn’t mean it won’t happen at all, especially in Trump World.