Trump campaign leadership shift: What does it mean?

Donald Trump's campaign announced two new major additions to his campaign. The restructuring is seen as a return to 'Let Trump be Trump.'

Eric Thayer/Reuters
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at the Ziegler Building at the Washington County Fair Park & Conference Center in West Bend, Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Donald Trump has hit a reset button on his campaign.

In recent weeks, the Republican presidential candidate has seen polling numbers falling in key swing states and internal tension among members of his campaign staff. 

And so, on Tuesday, Mr. Trump announced that he would be bringing two new managers to the top ranks of his campaign, signaling a shift in strategy a mere three months before election day. It appears to be a shift away from a current campaign manager Paul Manafort's effort to moderate Trump’s public presentation and a return to a less-restricted approach. 

The new picks are Stephen Bannon, who takes the position of campaign chief executive, and Kellyanne Conway, as campaign manager.

Mr. Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC and a former banker for Goldman Sachs. Ms. Conway is a Republican pollster and strategist who has already been a campaign adviser for Trump for several weeks.

Trump's campaign has been suffering in polls across the country recently. Major swing states have been showing growing support for Clinton and even a few traditionally red states such as Utah and Georgia seem to be leaning toward the Democratic candidate. In recent days, Trump has claimed that the US election is "rigged," reports The Christian Science Monitor.

Many Republicans have been worried about the poll results and about the adequacy of Trump's campaign staff to pull off a national election. Trump's staff is small compared to Clinton's, and and the additions of Bannon and Conway at the top will help bolster the structure of the campaign.

Trump's campaign said in a statement that the hiring of Bannon and Conway "come at a time of significant growth for Mr. Trump’s campaign, with the first major TV ad buy of the general election slated to start later this week and with additional top-flight operatives joining the movement on a near-daily basis."

Trump's low polling numbers in recent weeks can't be entirely blamed on a small staff, however. The presidential candidate's comments about the Muslim-American parents of a soldier who died in Iraq have proved unpopular at both ends of the political spectrum. His assertion that Barak Hussein Obama was the "founder of ISIS" also received mostly negative attention.

According to The Wall Street Journal, these comments prompted various officials in the GOP to criticize the candidate for going "off script," a strategy that worked well in securing Trump the nomination, but now seems to be hurting the campaign.

The announcement of the campaign restructure comes at a time of increased strain within the Trump's campaign staff as well. The new hires may signal the end of a push by Mr. Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, to rein in the candidate's tendency for making inflammatory comments.

Two anonymous Trump campaign aides told The Wall Street Journal that Trump had been feeling increasingly "boxed in." By hiring Bannon, he hopes to return to a more "Let Trump be Trump" style of campaign that he had under Corey Lewandowski, who was fired from the position of campaign manager two months ago, according to CNN.

The Washington Post offered a similar analysis of the move:

[The] decision effectively ended the months-long push by campaign chairman Paul Manafort to moderate Trump’s presentation and pitch for the general election. And it sent a signal, perhaps more clearly than ever, that the real-estate magnate intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side.

In recent days, Manafort has been linked to an undisclosed $12.7 million in campaign contributions from his previous work as a political consultant in Ukraine.

While Manafort is staying on in his position, his influence over the campaign will be diminished as Trump turns towards Bannon's edgier campaign style.

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