Donald Trump on Monday fired embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Will this help placate top GOP lawmakers and donors worried about the direction of the Trump campaign?
Maybe, just a bit. Mr. Lewandowski is famously combative and had poor relations with many Republican National Committee staff. His motto always seemed to be “Let Trump Be Trump.” Now that he’s gone, nervous Republicans might sigh and hope Mr. Trump finally pivots to a more restrained general election persona.
But that hope might also be misplaced. As we’ve noted, so far the Trump campaign is being run like a giant political science experiment. Can a presidential campaign win while spending zero dollars on early ads in battleground states? Can it succeed with a staff the size of the Clinton campaign’s accounting department?
Lewandowski has been with Trump since the beginning, but it’s highly unlikely he’s responsible for the campaign’s entire design. That’s a Trump-level decision. Trump for President looks a lot like Trump businesses, in fact: lean, dependent on the principal’s media prowess, and prone to outsourcing.
That would means it’s Trump that’s responsible for his current state of affairs, not his staff. He can’t fire himself, though. Either Lewandowski or chief strategist Paul Manafort, an experienced GOP hand, had to go.
“Lewandowski effort suggests Trump realizes campaign has imploded. Question is whether Manafort can quickly rebuild, esp before convention,” tweeted NBC political reporter Benjy Sarlin after the news broke.
In the wake of his dismissal, Lewandowski expressed surprise and said he had good relations with Manafort, Trump’s family, and Trump himself. Other reports, however, suggested that it was the family, and specifically Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who’d insisted that the former New Hampshire state police officer needed to go. Allegedly Lewandowski had tried to plant stories in the media critical of Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, who’s developed into a key Trump adviser.
If that’s true, Lewandowski would not be the first political employee to learn that it is a very bad idea to mess with a candidate’s immediate family. During the years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency numerous administration officials thought they could get around Nancy Reagan’s objections for some policy or other, if necessary. They were wrong. Once, Chief of Staff Don Regan hung up on Mrs. Reagan out of frustration. He was fired shortly thereafter.