By Doug Porter
Faced with increasingly bad polling news and chafing as he read pre-sanitized speeches on teleprompters, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has again revamped his campaign leadership.
After vacillating between being a traditional candidate and staying with the rabble-rousing style evidenced during the primaries, Trump looks to be going with a full-on angry white man approach.
The non-family inner circle for the New York billionaire now includes Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster already in the organization and Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News. Reports have also surfaced that Roger Ailes, the recently ousted head of Fox News, will begin to advise Trump as he prepares for the presidential debates.
Notably, he made the decision without input from his adult children who were off traveling during the weekend, sources close to the campaign said.
Donald, Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump have been influential advisers in the campaign and key mediators between Trump and Manafort, often also guiding their father to mollify his rhetoric and run a more conventional campaign.
Trump’s call to Conway came the same day Trump also met with Ailes at the same golf club.
Paul Manafort, who assumed the title of Campaign Chairman, will be sidelined in Washington DC. Manafort has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks as reports have linked him to a sub-rosa lobbying campaign and $12.5 million in payments listed in a secret ledger in Ukraine.
A conversation about the direction of the campaign with donors at a weekend fundraiser in The Hamptons that included high-profile GOP donor Rebekah Mercer was reportedly the impetus for the latest shake-up.
Conway: The Insider
Kellyann Conway, named as campaign manager, has a history of being a go-to consultant for Republicans seeking to bolster their image with women voters.
In 1995, she founded The Polling Company/WomanTrend, a consulting firm specializing in market research. Conway gained fame on the talk show circuit as co-author of a book titled “What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live.”
From New York Magazine:
Conway’s next bout of national fame occurred in 2012, when she was frequently in the news defending another client, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, after his self-destructive comments opposing a “rape” exception for a hypothetical abortion ban on grounds that women’s bodies had mysterious ways of avoiding conception in cases of “legitimate rape.” By 2014, she had used her experience with Akin to develop a rap (delivered on one occasion to a House Republican Conference retreat) on how conservative pols could avoid offending women without, of course, changing their positions on issues like abortion.
Her close relations with cultural conservatives before and after the Akin disaster make it unsurprising when she resurfaced early in the 2016 cycle as head of a pro–Ted Cruz super-pac funded by hedge-fund tycoon Robert Mercer. But even as Cruz himself declined to endorse Trump after losing to him in the primaries, Conway (who apparently has known Trump for years) followed Mercer into the mogul’s tent, with the super-pac rechristening itself as “Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC” in June, and Conway leaving to serve as an adviser to the candidate. Her bonds were strengthened when another of her cultural-conservative clients, Mike Pence, was chosen as Trump’s running mate (yet another Conway client, Newt Gingrich, was a runner-up).
Bannon: The Loose Cannon
Much has been made of the addition of Steve Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker best known for his brash style as CEO of Breitbart, a far-right media site with white nationalist/alt-right tendencies and an aversion to mainstream conservative politicians.
Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s take:
Less encouraging is the arrival of Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News as chief executive for campaign operations. Breitbart has been called Mr. Trump’s Pravda, but Pravda is more subtle. The website specializes in attacking—often in nasty personal terms—Republicans who refuse to assail immigration and trade.
Breitbart led the campaign to defeat House Speaker Paul Ryan in his Wisconsin primary this month. “ Paul Ryan Bows Down to Nationalist Populism as His Career Flashes Before His Eyes,” said one headline. Mr. Ryan won 84% of the vote.
Mr. Bannon wants Mr. Trump to run the way he did in the primaries as an unabashed populist and nationalist. We thought Mr. Trump’s problem is that he hadn’t changed from the primaries, that he hadn’t tried to reach out to skeptical independents and Republicans, that he hadn’t until recently broadened his message beyond trade and immigration. But maybe Mr. Bannon sees a path to 270 electoral votes that others don’t.
Ben Shapiro, a one-time editor for Breitbart, took to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post to warn people about the dangers of bringing Bannon and what he stands for into the campaign:
Constitutional conservatives can’t stand the alt-right. Conservatives — real conservatives — believe that only a philosophy of limited government, God-given rights and personal responsibility can save the country. And that creed is not bound to race or ethnicity. Broad swaths of the alt-right, by contrast, believe in a creed-free, race-based nationalism, insisting, among other things, that birth on American soil confers superiority. The alt-right sees limited-government constitutionalism as passé; it holds that only nationalist populism on the basis of shared tribal identity can save the country. It’s a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism.
The Influence of the Far, Far Right
Donald Trump gave a major foreign policy address in Youngstown, Ohio this week, and one of his latest name calling stunts baffled many observers.
He attacked Hillary Clinton by saying she wants to be America’s Angela Merkel.
The reference was considered odd because Merkel isn’t exactly a household name in the United States and because she’s generally not thought of as being a horrible person in mainstream political circles.
Here’s Think Progress:
But there is at least one group of Americans well familiar with Merkel, her immigration policies, and her connections to Hillary Clinton: white supremacists.
To white nationalist communities that fervently support Trump, Merkel has been a popular villain. Sites like the Daily Stormer, the White Genocide Project, American Renaissance, and The White Resister have posted constantly about her since the Syrian refugee crisis began escalating earlier this year. They have accused her of making a “deliberate attempt to turn Germany from a majority White country into a minority White country.” They have called her a “crazy childless bitch,” “Anti-White Traitor,” and “patron saint of terrorists.” They have asked in articles about her, “Why would you allow a woman to run a country, unless you were doing it as a joke?”
In fact, Trump’s new line about Clinton wanting to become “America’s Merkel” can be found almost verbatim in these white supremacist forums. “If Hillary takes power she will be to America what Merkel is to Germany,” a member of Stormfront wrote in March. “Hillary Clinton is America’s Angela Merkel,”wrote a commenter on American Renaissance in April.
A Glimpse of What’s Coming
I suppose some readers might be wondering just how the Trump campaign can get any worse than it already has been.
Trust me, it’s going to get worse. The people wearing the tin-foil hats now have full access to the Trump messaging machine.
Consider the “Hillary has brain damage” bit of right wing wisdom, passed along on Fox & Friends this week, via Raw Story:
Host Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt cited Dr. Drew Pinsky, who reportedly said he was “gravely concerned” about Clinton’s health. The radio show has since been taken down and Pinsky has made no public statements about the comments on social media or in an official capacity.
“And what he said on the radio yesterday,” Doocy began. “Is that the fact that when we saw Hillary Clinton wearing those prism glasses, a sign of brain damage and other things, and he’s worried about the care she’s getting so far.”
Brian Kilmeade interjected his recollection of when she was wearing her glasses rather than contacts and seemed to think there was a correlation to Clinton’s glasses and Benghazi. “And if you want to — or remember, when she was wearing those glasses, remember when she made those famous lines to Senator Ron Johnson, ‘What difference at this point does it make,’ that’s when she had those glasses on.”
Hillary has Autism AND Syphilis. They Can Tell
MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow fills us in on the latest Clinton conspiracy mongering and its origins:
There are fake Hillary Clinton medical records circulating in the right-wing blogosphere. They have her real-life doctor’s name printed at the top, though not her correct title as a doctor. And this fake letter purports to show that Secretary Clinton has severe neurological impairments.
There’s even a fake MRI circulating in the right-wing Twittersphere, supposedly showing damage to Hillary Clinton’s brain. See can’t you tell that’s Hillary Clinton’s brain? Looks like her, it’s wearing a pant suit. Look! Both the fake records and the fake brain scan were tweeted out by a Twitter account that has since been deleted, but they’ve been shared over and over and over again on the right-wing web and talked about on right-wing talk radio.
There’s also an absolutely nutballs video produced by Alex Jones’ InfoWars, a conspiracy theory website that uses slowed down video of Hillary Clinton joking around with reporters, to claim that she’s having a seizure. What was actually going on in that moment is that she was joking around about the fact that reporters were all asking her a bunch of questions at the same time, and she was going hey hey hey hold on a minute. But they slowed it down and made it seem like she’s collapsing. I should tell you that this is from InfoWars and for good measure, the video from InfoWars also says that in addition to these seizures that they accuse her of having, they say that she also has autism and that she has syphilis. They can tell.
And If the Conspiracies Don’t Work…
House Republicans have announced plans for a eighth investigation into claims about Hillary Clinton. This time, it’s over whether she’s guilty of perjury.
To set the stage for this latest waste of taxpayer dollars, House Republicans are busy leaking classified information garnered from FBI interviews regarding the infamous emails.
Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta told the media he’s “Already hearing from people who have been contacted by reporters with knowledge of the content of their interviews in FBI 302’s.”
Finally, this bit of brilliance from Trump campaign spokesperson Michael Cohen on CNN is too good not to share:
On This Day: 1962 – Peter, Paul & Mary’s “If I Had A Hammer” was released. 1963 – James Meredith graduated from the University of Mississippi. He was the first black man to accomplish this feat. 2004 – Donald Trump unveiled his board game (TRUMP the Game) where players bid on real estate, buy big ticket items and make billion-dollar business deals.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.