Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager shot down the idea that Donald Trump is poised for a pivot in his campaign, saying on a Wednesday conference call that he’s the same candidate he’s always been.
Robby Mook criticised the Republican presidential nominee for appointing Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon as his new campaign manager as a shake-up that’s thought to signal a strange pivot toward the general election.
“After several failed attempts to pivot into a more serious and presidential mode, Donald Trump has decided to double down on his most small, nasty, and divisive instincts by turning his campaign over to someone who’s best known for running a so-called news site that peddles divisive, at times racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” Mook said.
“What has become clear from this is that no matter how much the establishment wants to clean Donald Trump up, get him on a TelePrompTer and get him on message, he has officially won the fight to let Trump be Trump. He keeps telling us who he is, and it’s about time we believe him.”
Trump’s campaign has been beset by controversy after controversy, and he’s suffered in the polls. Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, has been beating Trump in national polls fairly consistently for months. Trump saw a bump after the Republican National Convention in July, but Clinton quickly regained her lead after the Democratic National Convention the following week.
And Bannon is a controversial figure as Trump’s new campaign manager.
A former investment banker and adviser to former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, Bannon is widely known for helping to craft Breitbart’s vision as a pro-Trump outlet opposed to the GOP establishment and unafraid to run stories with a conspiratorial bent. Under Bannon, Breitbart has also led the anti-immigration charge that Trump has embraced wholeheartedly in his campaign.
“Like Trump himself, Breitbart and Bannon have frequently trafficked in all sorts of strange conspiracy theories,” Mook said. “In the coming weeks we should expect to see more … hateful rhetoric.”
Mook also blasted Breitbart for “defend[ing] white supremacists” and embracing “extremist” ideas from the conservative right.
In Cleveland on Wednesday, Clinton herself blasted Trump’s campaign shake-up as well.
“I think it’s fair to say that Donald Trump has shown us who he is,” she said. “He can fire and hire anybody he wants from his campaign, they can make him read new words from a TelePrompTer, but he is still the same man who insults Gold Star families, demeans women, mocks people with disabilities, and thinks he knows more about ISIS than our generals.”
Trump has struggled to stay on message, and his tendency to go off on rants has hurt his campaign as it moves from the primaries into the general election. Efforts to rein him in have reportedly failed, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been marginalized with the new hires announced Wednesday.
Fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski notoriously implemented the “let Trump be Trump” policy during the primaries when Trump was far ahead of his Republican rivals in the polls. But the broader electorate has had trouble stomaching Trump’s brash tone.
Peter Jacobs and Maxwell Tani contributed to this report.
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