Trump’s campaign shows hints of change

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There are signs that Donald Trump’s campaign is evolving.

A day after the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the Trump campaign on Tuesday launched a series of aggressive and coordinated attacks on Hillary Clinton. Going after Clinton is nothing new for Trump, but the way his campaign did represented a clear shift in tactics.

{mosads}His press release strikes — more than 10 of which were sent to national media outlets within the space of several hours — were notable for their rapidity and were heavy on statistics, displaying a conventional streak not often seen in the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s campaign. The media releases came as Clinton was lambasting Trump’s economic policies during a speech in Columbus, Ohio.

Trump’s tweets on Tuesday were more policy-focused, and a number were written in a style that more closely resembled a political consultant’s manner of talking.

“Hillary Clinton’s open borders immigration policies will drive down wages for all Americans — and make everyone less safe,” one tweet from Trump’s account read.

Yet at the same time, Trump in a Tuesday meeting with evangelical leaders offered a signature personal salvo at Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, by questioning her religious faith.

In recent days, Trump has said he has to be himself on the campaign trail and not “a phony like Hillary Clinton.” Establishment Republicans, however, want him to be more on message and keep the focus on Clinton and specific issues. For the most part, that’s what Trump did on Tuesday.

There aren’t many Capitol Hill Republicans who believe the 70-year-old Trump can fundamentally change, but at least one of his high-profile supporters said Tuesday that he’s optimistic the Trump campaign can turn things around.

“It appears that there’s an effort to direct the campaign in a different way,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and rumored to be in the running to be Trump’s vice presidential pick.

“It seems like it could be a major turning point, and that’s exciting if that’s what’s happening,” Corker added.

With Clinton and Trump’s unfavorable ratings so high, the winner in November will likely be the candidate who makes the race a referendum on their opponent. A new CNN/ORC poll released this week found that 56 percent of respondents are afraid of a Trump presidency, compared to 46 percent for Clinton.

The poll had some good news for Trump despite a disastrous three weeks: He has the edge over Clinton on the economy, combating terrorism and gun policies. She leads on immigration, foreign policy, women’s rights and trade.

A source close to Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort said, “Paul’s mission is to professionalize the campaign, to build up the communications shop, the finance shop … the political shop’s not in terrible shape, but they need some more people.”

“The fundraising especially needs to pick up,” the source said, adding that Manafort’s hope was now that he has total control he’d be able to make dramatic changes.

The source, who talks regularly to Manafort, said the campaign chairman is keenly aware of how dire the situation has become in recent weeks, but he said the encouraging thing from his perspective is that Trump also recognizes that big changes need to be made.

“Trump himself has this super confidence that he can come back from anything, but he knows he’s dug himself a hole,” the source said.

“If Trump can stay out of trouble for a while and have a strong convention, [the GOP establishment and donor class] are going to come back in and help the super-PACs that are supporting him.

“Now I just gave you a big ‘if’ of how he’ll conduct himself.”

More skeptical Republicans told The Hill that the panic about Trump’s campaign is spreading so fast that if polls don’t turn around the GOP donor community could shift almost entirely into a save-the-Senate project. Trump’s paltry fundraising numbers in May stunned the political world when they became public Monday night, and some Republicans are
questioning why the presumptive GOP nominee is touting his own self-funding prowess while also asking for resources.

“Nobody knows what to do,” said top Republican fundraiser Lisa Spies, who spearheaded Jewish and women’s outreach for GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. “Does he want our money or not?”

Asked what Trump could do to turn around his financial situation, Spies said, “It’s actually very simple. You ask for money.”

Trump’s campaign has just $1.3 million cash on hand, which is $40 million less than the Clinton campaign has in its account.

Trump fought back against these negative fundraising reports by sending out his first small-dollar fundraising email, promising his supporters that he’ll be “personally matching every dollar that comes in within the next 48 hours, up to $2 million.”

“If need be, there could be unlimited ‘cash on hand’ as I would put up my own money, as I have already done through the primaries, spending over $50 million,” Trump added in a separate statement. “Our campaign is leaner and more efficient, like our government should be.” 

There are also private doubts within the senior ranks of Trump’s campaign that he’ll use his own money to fund a general election campaign in which Clinton and her allies will likely spend more than $1 billion.

Manafort sought to reassure campaign staff in a conference call late Monday morning after Lewandowski’s sacking was already dominating cable news networks and social media. He told them the campaign would be expanding staff in battleground states, according to a senior source on the call.

But Manafort didn’t color in the details about the staff expansion, and there’s been no substantive staff-wide communication since, the source said.

Asked what he had gleaned about the campaign’s new direction since Lewandowski’s firing, the Trump campaign source told The Hill on Tuesday, “I wish I could be more help; to be honest with you, since the conference call we had yesterday morning there’s been nothing.”

“We don’t really have a comms department,” the source said, venting frustration at the lack of internal communication. “It’s absolute chaos. It’s really frustrating.”

“We just announced an HR person, so we’re kind of maturing,” the source added, sarcastically.

Tags Bob Corker Donald Trump Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
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