There has been a shake-up in the campaign of Donald Trump with Steve Bannon coming on a chief executive and Kellyanne Elizabeth Conway as campaign manager and the seeming demotion of Paul Manafort who will retain his job title. Such changes so late in the game are rare and are usually taken as signs that things are not going well in a campaign, so the Trump campaign has taken some pains to paint these changes as mere trifles.
These changes have given fresh energy to what seems like a never-ending question and that is whether this signals the long-awaited ‘pivot’ by Trump from running a free-wheeling campaign that lurches from one controversy to another to a more traditional one that tries to focus on one message a day that paints the candidate in the best light.
Bannon has been a strong supporter of Trump and waged a major war to destroy the person once seen as the presumptive nominee, Jeb Bush. He has also long had Hillary Clinton in his sights and has spent a vast amount of time on opposition research against her. Much attention has been focused on the fact that Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart.com, an outlet known for its pugnacity and insouciance when it comes to facts. This suggests that things may not change much and that Trump may become even more aggressive in his rhetoric.
But that may be misleading. In October of last year, Joshua Green wrote a detailed profile of Bannon for Bloomberg Businessweek that was titled This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America that said that Bannon combined shrewd political and business savvy with an in-your-face style.
Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart Newsi, the crusading right-wing populist website that’s a lineal descendant of the Drudge Report (its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, spent years apprenticing with Matt Drudge) and a haven for people who think Fox News is too polite and restrained.
As befits someone with his peripatetic background, Bannon is a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde figure in the complicated ecosystem of the right—he’s two things at once. And he’s devised a method to influence politics that marries the old-style attack journalism of Breitbart.com, which helped drive out Boehner, with a more sophisticated approach, conducted through the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, that builds rigorous, fact-based indictments against major politicians, then partners with mainstream media outlets conservatives typically despise to disseminate those findings to the broadest audience.
Conway gets a favorable review from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley whose student she once was.
Kellyanne is one of my former students at GW Law where she also served as an adjunct professor. It is a huge responsibility and Trump supporters should be highly encouraged by her selection. She is smart, resourceful, and very disciplined. Just what the Trump campaign needs at this critical time. She also now have the distinction of being the first female to head a GOP campaign for president.
Of course, with the Trump campaign, one can never be sure what will happen on any given day so let’s see how these changes work out.