Donald Trump is attempting to professionalize and evolve his campaign as he comes closer and closer to securing the Republican nomination for president.
The real-estate mogul has, in recent weeks, hired more experienced and seasoned political staffers.
Next week, he is planning to deliver a foreign policy speech in Washington, DC, where he’ll be using teleprompters rather than speaking off-the-cuff, according to The Wall Street Journal. Trump also plans to hire a speechwriter, which the campaign has lacked thus far.
Trump insisted that he’s still the same candidate — his bombast was indeed on full display on the campaign trail Wednesday — but acknowledged that he’s making some changes in his campaign strategy.
“The campaign is evolving and transitioning, and so am I,” he told The Journal. “I’ll be more effective and more disciplined. … I’m not going to blow it.”
Pundits and journalists noticed a change in Trump on Tuesday night after his blowout win in the New York primary. His victory speech at New York City’s Trump Tower was toned down compared to past addresses. For instance, he ditched his favoured moniker for his chief rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, calling him “Senator Cruz” instead of “Lyin’ Ted.”
While Trump took shots at Cruz, he refrained from his typical insults and appeared significantly restrained.
But Trump is sticking to his signature rhetoric on the campaign trail. The gentler side of Trump that political observers noticed in his Tuesday speech dissipated during a Wednesday rally in Indiana, where Trump took some of his favourite cracks at both Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
He also continued the crowd-pleasing antics that have become staples at his rallies, taunting protesters for supposedly being “weak” and telling sensational stories that play somewhat loose with the facts.
Trump told The Journal that while he’s planning policy speeches and hiring a speechwriter, he’ll keep riffing at his rallies.
Voters might not hear as much Trump on the airwaves, though. A senior campaign adviser told The Journal that Trump’s new media strategy is to “be less exposed and to control media impressions in order for the message to be more powerful.”
That would constitute a major shift for the candidate that has so far relied on social media and frequent appearances to push his message. Trump has been a constant fixture on radio and television since announcing his candidacy, using the free media exposure to bolster his campaign at little financial cost to him.
Now Trump is planning on ramping up spending as he scales back on media exposure. He told The Journal that he’ll “spend what it takes.” Trump’s campaign spent $40 million in the past 10 months, according to the publication, most of which was Trump’s own money. Now, he plans on spending about half that much in the next two months alone, one source told The Journal.
Trump’s shifting strategy is an apparent result of changes in his campaign staff. In recent weeks, Trump advisers have reportedly started building a parallel campaign structure that gives more power to new delegate strategist Paul Manafort and adviser Rick Wiley, while marginalizing campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
The reboot of Trump’s campaign comes as the Cruz campaign mounts an organised effort to woo delegates who could tilt the balance in his favour at a potentially contested Republican convention this summer.
Trump’s big win in New York this week put him closer to the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the Republican nomination outright — and in more commanding position going forward. But it’s still not certain that he’ll be able to reach that number through state contests alone, as long as Cruz and Kasich remain in the race.
Trump now leads the race with 845 delegates, according to The Associated Press. Cruz gained no ground and remained at 559 delegates. Kasich has 147.
Manafort is reportedly focusing on planning Trump rallies in strategically significant districts, according to The Journal.
“There will be a new focus on winning not just statewide vote totals but also the vote in specific congressional districts, where most delegates are awarded,” The Journal reported. “In the New York primary, Mr. Manafort picked the location of each rally for its importance in delegate selection.”