New hires and more cash have analysts wondering if Donald Trump is turning a page, trading in an infamously rag-tag campaign apparatus for something more polished and — dare we say — Establishment. Over the weekend, Trump hired political strategist Paul Manafort to oversee his delegate and convention strategy and Rick Wiley to take over as his political director.
Manafort is a lobbyist and consultant who advised the Reagan campaign, and Wiley is a battle-hardened GOP operative who is still somehow a respected political entity despite most recently managing Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, Trump’s infamous campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who’s best known for manhandling a female journalist and going on a woefully under-informed televised rant about the delegate system, has reportedly been sidelined. And just yesterday, Trump’s national field director and a longtime ally of Lewandowski’s, Stuart Jolly, handed in his resignation after being told he would no longer report directly to his old friend. (Jolly insists Lewandowski’s shrinking role has nothing to do with his decision to quit; it was time, he told the Washington Post, to “let the new team have a shot at it.”)
Along with the personnel changes has come a change in cash flow: Trump will reportedly spend $20 million campaigning in the next two months, which is far more than he’s spent in the past. Perhaps in response to criticism over his lack of “ground game,” Trump is also reportedly expanding his staff in some places, particularly in Pennsylvania.
Either Trump is morphing into the type of polished “Establishment” candidate he’s made it a point to scorn, or he’s finally beginning to understand the delegate system.