Donald Trump’s effort to bring on new campaign chief Stephen Bannon could mean he’s “planning to lose in the loudest and most destructive way possible.”
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, August 20, 2016, 6:54 PM
Make America great again — by lighting a match and flicking it into the dumpster of a floundering campaign.
The reshuffling of Donald Trump’s brain trust could be a white flag — an intentional effort to tank the presidential election in spectacular fashion.
The GOP nominee’s presidential bid emerged from its most disastrous stretch to date so wounded that Trump had no choice but to pull a few strings, outwardly as a last-ditch try to make his race with Hillary Clinton more competitive.
But the shakeup last week, some experts say, was actually to seal his fate — a “yuge” November loss — by bringing in flashy advisers who will just let him be himself, and let his circus tent crash and burn.
“Trump may indeed be planning to lose in the loudest and most destructive way possible,” David Birdsell, dean of the Public Affairs School at Baruch College, told the Daily News.
Republican Donald Trump shakes up his campaign strategy by bringing in Breitbart News’ Bannon as campaign CEO and promoting pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager.
(Danny Moloshok/Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
That was Birdsell’s response when asked about Trump’s decision to bring in Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of far-right news and opinion site Breitbart.
As one of the chiefs of Breitbart, which has essentially served as a propaganda machine for Trump, Bannon has been integral in overseeing the organization’s embrace of all things white supremacist, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant.
Breitbart News, in recent years, has given mouthpieces to controversial columnist Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter for life for his overtly racist and hateful statements, and to Austin Ruse, whose Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
What on Earth could explain Trump putting his campaign in the hands of such an apparent fringe — albeit successful — figure?
“The move ignores the deep discomfort most Americans feel about the alt-right crowd. Trump’s winking flirtations with the far right have been distressing enough,” Birdsell said. “But Bannon is firmly established in this world; the daylight between Trump and some of the ugliest corners of the American polity is about to shrink to a nullity.”
It’s a head-scratching move that will likely solidify his popularity among his base, but do little to attract voters among other demographics he needs to win a majority in the Electoral College in November.
“He’s already doing just fine among the far-right and among less-educated whites … and the problem is that there aren’t enough such people in the country to put him over the top,” Birdsell explained. “It might look better if they were concentrated in battleground states, but they’re not. Many are already in safely red states such as Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.”
To win the election Trump would need to carry every deep red state Mitt Romney did in 2012 and then take a combination of swing states like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and/or Colorado — which are decidedly not pivoting to the far-right.
Donald Trump may be running his campaign to the ground in style.
(New York Daily News)
Rodell Mollineau, a partner at political strategy firm Rokk Solutions, agreed and suggested that, even if Trump had wanted to hire someone with a proven record of winning, he wouldn’t have been able to.
“These changes don’t help Trump win anything,” Mollineau told The News. “I’m sure Bannon will help Trump sling mud at his enemies and amplify his lies but at this point in the campaign the Republican nominee needs operatives with real experience who understand how to win elections.”
“The truth is most operatives who could actually be helpful won’t touch Trump with a 10-foot pole and Trump’s ego and insecurities have stopped him from pursuing those folks anyway, so you get folks like Bannon running the ship,” he said.
In a brief response to questions over the motives behind the decision to hire Bannon, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that, “Mr. Trump wants to win” and directed The News to the press release distributed by the campaign that announced Bannon’s hire.
Kellyanne Conway, president and chief executive officer of Polling Co. Inc./Woman Trend, was also promoted to campaign manager because Trump believes they are “people who love to win and know how to win.”
(Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In that release, Trump lauded Bannon, as well as Kellyanne Conway, who was promoted to campaign manager, as “highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win,” ignoring the fact that neither Bannon nor Conway has any experience running a campaign.
The moves came just 82 days before the general election and with Trump trailing Clinton by double digits in a slew of national polls and in Florida, Colorado and Virginia.
The hires, however, aren’t the only evidence that Trump could be trying to throw the election. Trump waited until this past week to make his first TV ad buy for the general election — an unusually late start for critical airtime. Spots in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia will begin airing next week.
Still, some insiders think it’s too early to draw conclusions about Trump’s motives.
Corey Lewandowski was the former campaign manager for Donald Trump.
(Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
“Reorganization is an attempt to let Trump be Trump with some refinements,” said David Caputo, president emeritus and professor of Political Science at Pace University.
“We will have to see the tenor of the TV ads and the campaign behavior moving forward to see if a desire to win, which means — to broaden his appeal, wins out over ideology,” Caputo said.
Last week, the nominee even waved off concerns about his plummeting poll numbers and increasing GOP defections, suggesting he might not really care whether he spends the next four years in the White House or in the Caribbean.
“At the end (of the campaign), it’s either going to work or I’m going to have a very, very nice long vacation,” Trump told CNBC.