With 82 days left before Election Day, Donald Trump has decided to shake up his staff. Here’s your lede from the Associated Press:
The billionaire real estate mogul named Stephen Bannon of the conservative Breitbart News website as chief executive officer and promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. Paul Manafort, Trump’s controversial campaign chairman, will retain his title, but it is unclear if his role will change.
In tapping Bannon for a top campaign role, Trump is doubling down on his outsider appeal rather than appeasing more traditional Republicans. The conservative Breitbart figure has been a cheerleader for Trump’s campaign for months and was critical of Republican leaders, including [U.S. House Speaker Paul] Ryan. Bannon is a former Goldman Sachs banker and does not bring presidential campaign experience to Trump’s White House bid.
Trump has resisted pleas from fellow Republicans to overhaul the flame-throwing approach on the campaign trail that powered his surge to the top of the Republican field in the primary season. Instead of working to broaden his appeal, Trump has largely hewed to the large rallies and attention-grabbing comments that appealed to the party base.
Conway joined Trump’s campaign earlier this year as a senior adviser. A longtime Republican strategist and pollster, she has close ties to Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Trump preceded the moves with this explanation:
“You know, I am who I am,” he told a local Wisconsin television station Tuesday. “It’s me. I don’t want to change. Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, well you’re going to pivot, you’re going to.’ I don’t want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
People briefed on the move said that it reflected Mr. Trump’s realization that his campaign was at a crisis point. But it indicates that the candidate — who has chafed at making the types of changes his current aides have asked for, even though he had acknowledged they would need to occur — has decided to embrace his aggressive style for the duration of the race.
Both Ms. Conway and Mr. Bannon, whose news organization has been very favorable to Mr. Trump since he entered the primaries, are close with Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the father-and-daughter conservative donors who have become allies of the candidate and are funding a “super PAC” that is working against Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump has rattled off a string of questionable campaign appearances in recent weeks, including a venture to Connecticut, a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican since 1988. Stuart Stevens, once Mitt Romney’s top strategist, had some pointed advice on his trip Tuesday to Wisconsin – where he trails by double-digits in the polls.
By the way, we’re told there are no immediate plans in the works in the next few weeks to send Trump to Georgia. But the Trump campaign has decided to beef up its staff. From a post earlier this morning:
Days after Clinton’s campaign hired a new senior adviser in Georgia, Trump’s operation said it was adding two new staffers to its Atlanta operation: Jennifer Hazelton, a former TV producer, to handle communications and Billy Kirkland, a veteran of Sen. David Perdue’s campaign, to serve as senior strategist.
After not a little shaming, the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes to flooding in Louisiana are finally making it onto the media radar.
Over at Forbes magazine, Marshall Shepherd, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Georgia, has tried to explain why. First, he said, the event had no “name” that headline writers could latch onto:
The American public is somewhat conditioned to perceive a named or higher-category storm as more of a threat. The meteorological conditions that produced the Louisiana floods never received an official “name.” One NOAA Weather Prediction Center discussion actually referred to it as ”sheared inland tropical depression” or a monsoon depression. While this is meaningful to the meteorological crowd (maybe), this certainly is not going to resonate with the average citizen. Whatever it “was,” more rainfall fell in parts of Louisiana than some cities in California have seen in three to five years.
Over at the New York Times, even public editor Liz Spayd was slightly chagrined that her newspaper didn’t have someone in the water until Monday:
Many readers have expressed disappointment in the coverage. Here’s Catherine Holmes, of Georgia, who wrote in Sunday afternoon. “Baton Rouge and residents north and east are in the midst of a disaster and I see nothing on The New York Times’s front page. Hundreds of people have been stranded on I-12 since yesterday morning, and just a few hours ago got some water delivered to them,” she wrote. “Disappointing that Trump’s latest gaffe and the Olympics totally dominate your front page this morning, when so many in south Louisiana are suffering.”
Democrats quietly cheered the news that Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein didn’t get enough verified signatures to appear on Georgia’s ballot.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office said Tuesday said local election officials were only able to verify 5,925 signatures on the third-party campaign’s petition. It needed to reach 7,500 signatures.
Although the Green Party plans to appeal, it will also eat up valuable resources that could be spent building a network in Georgia and appealing to the party’s left-leaning voters.
Stein is polling at just a few percentage points in surveys across the nation, and the AJC poll shows her at just 2 points of support in Georgia – though her backing doubles among younger voters, aged 18-39, to 4 percent.
With Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a tight race, Democrats are hoping to wrangle every vote they can from like-minded voters. And if Clinton pulls out a razor-thin victory in Georgia, the Green Party’s ballot rejection could be a key factor.
Hugh Esco, the co-chair of the Georgia Green Party, said the party is considering several different strategies to challenge the decision.
“Ultimately, in spite of the technical deficiencies used to justify this ruling, the Georgia Green Party far surpassed its burden to demonstrate a ‘modicum of support’ as required by the courts,” he said. “The voters of Georgia have a constitutional right to see their candidates of choice on the printed ballot. We trust the courts will agree.”
The Rev. Raphael Warnock, of late one of the most vocal critics of Georgia Republicans, said Donald Trump’s campaign’s plan to send an army of poll watchers to voting sites sounded like a thinly-veiled threat.
“It’s a dog whistle. And I think it is a call for voter intimidation,” said Warnock, who pastors Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of Martin Luther King Jr. “This is really ugly stuff and it hearkens back to a dark period in America,” Warnock said.
In the subdued battle to become Democrat Hillary Clinton’s point person in Georgia, state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams has gotten a temporary boost.
The Clinton campaign sent a note to Georgia media highlighting Abrams’ call for Trump to release his tax returns. “Hard-working Georgia voters deserve to know the truth about Trump,” she said in the release, which asks: “What is he hiding?”
Over at the Georgia Report, Tom Crawford passes on the belated news that Jane Miller Ross, sister of former Gov. Zell Miller, has died at the age of 90.