Donald Trump yesterday restructured his campaign team for the second time in two months, fending off suggestions that his presidential run is in crisis as polls show Hillary Clinton cruising towards victory.
The Republican White House nominee, who is tanking in swing states to his Democratic rival, hired a news executive from a virulently anti-Clinton website as his campaign CEO and promoted a leading Republican strategist to campaign manager.
That CEO is Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of the popular conservative website Breitbart News, and the new manager is leading Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway.
“I am committed to doing whatever it takes to win this election, and ultimately become president,” the New York billionaire announced.
The Clinton campaign denounced the shake-up and accused Bannon of presiding over a website that “peddles divisive, at times racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”
“We absolutely expect with this change for Donald Trump and the campaign as a whole to double down on more hateful, divisive rhetoric, more conspiracy theories, more wild accusations,” said campaign manager Robby Mook.
“He has officially won the fight to let Trump be Trump,” he told reporters. “He keeps telling us who he is, it’s time that we believe him.” The shake-up comes with chairman Paul Manafort under fire in the press after being named in a Ukrainian corruption scandal.
Clinton is leading Trump, 47.3% to 41.2%, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.
The Republican languishes behind her in virtually every key battleground state, raising the prospect of a Clinton landslide win.
The Republican nominee has been badly damaged since denigrating the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq, and was accused last week of inciting violence against Clinton in a remark about the right to bear arms.
A string of prominent Republicans have announced they will not be voting for Trump as US newspapers report of a campaign in crisis and staffers unnerved by a candidate apparently incapable of reeling in crass remarks.
While his media-saturated, populist, outsider campaign fended off 16 rivals to win the Republican nomination, Trump has refuted suggestions that he should change tack to win the November election from the centre.
“Everybody talks about, ‘Oh well, you’re gonna pivot’. I don’t wanna pivot,” he told Wisconsin news station WKBT-TV. “I mean you have to be you.
If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
It is the second personnel shake-up at the top since June 20 when Trump dropped his first manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was sidelined by Manafort and courted controversy after allegedly grabbing a Breitbart reporter.
Bannon, a former naval officer and investment banker, is seen as a maverick.
An October 2015 profile by Bloomberg Politics described him as “the most dangerous political operative in America.”
He is “a bit of a street fighter, willing to go right at his opponents, and make sure that they know that in politics, all is fair,” Lewandowski told CNN.
Bannon’s arrival will be seen, at least by some, as a demotion of Manafort, the seasoned Republican adviser returning to presidential politics for the first time in 20 years after working as a lobbyist for controversial clients.