Donald Trump’s new campaign manager went on the offensive yesterday, saying that the Republican presidential nominee would “sharpen” his message after a major personnel shake-up that would let Trump be Trump.
“I think it helps us to be a little bit behind,” Kellyanne Conway told CNN the day after the campaign’s second restructuring in two months as the billionaire tanks in the polls to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. “It lights a fire under us and reminds us what we need to do to get this done.”
“We’re going to sharpen the message. We’re going to make sure Donald Trump is comfortable about being in his own skin – that he doesn’t lose that authenticity,” she added.
Weeks of self-inflicted errors have alienated establishment Republicans and seen his own supporters tear their hair out.
Conway said the emphasis going forward would be on policy.
She praised Stephen Bannon, a former banker turned colourful, right-wing news executive whom Trump appointed campaign chief executive, as a “brilliant tactician”.
The Clinton campaign criticised the appointment, saying that they expected it to see the Trump campaign “double down on more hateful, divisive rhetoric”.
Conway, the first woman manager of a Republican presidential run, said that she would rather lose an election campaign based on substance than win it on style.
“I’d rather lose a campaign where we put it all in the field substantively, where people saw the difference on the major issues of the day, than win a campaign based on style,” she told CBS News.
She said she was confident Trump “can stay on message” and accused Clinton of waging “disappointing and unbecoming” attacks on her Republican opponent.
“There’s not a single job that gets created from that, there’s not a single uninsured American who gets healthcare from that kind of nastiness,” she said.
Trump’s poll numbers among women are notoriously slack and he has been accused of making sexist remarks about women and for sexist critiques of Clinton.
“The way to speak to women and all Americans is through issues. We have to get away from this content-free campaign and on to the substance and talk to the people who are struggling,” Conway said.