The revolving door at the glitzy Trump Tower spun once again this week for yet another shakeup of the Republican nominee’s chaotic presidential campaign team.
This time to welcome a new member, Stephen Bannon, a hard-charging, colourful media executive who has taken over as the campaign’s chief executive, the big Kahuna.
Kellyanne Conway, a pollster who supported his rival Ted Cruz during the primaries but had been working with him for a while now, was promoted as the new campaign manager.
“They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win,” Donald Trump said, announcing the appointments, adding they “share my message and vision”.
On Friday, the sidelined campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a one-time lobbyist whose links to Ukraine had come under scrutiny recently, left through the same door.
Just two months ago, Manafort had engineered the ouster of then campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, a combative figure who had also fallen foul of the three Trump children.
With less than three months left for November 8 elections, Trump’s circle of advisers, both close and not-so-close, has constantly been in a state of flux .
The Republican nominee’s wife, Melania Trump, has been a reluctant campaigner. But his three children, Don, Ivanka and Eric form a tight-knit group of advisers for the nominee, with Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner, also a real estate businessman, receiving the maximum attention. He has been called the de facto campaign manager after engineering the ouster of then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Kushner, a boyish 35-year-old has been the subject of multiple newsmagazine profiles. He is believed to have prevented Trump from picking Chris Christie as his running mate, because the New Jersey governor had as US attorney in 2005, brought down Kushner’s father Charles Kushner and thrown him in jail.
Kushner, who is Jewish, also helped his father-in-law reach out to the powerful Jewish lobby, and helped him deal with blowback from an anti-semitic re-tweet.
Chief executive Stephen Bannon, a one-time Wall Street executive who headed ultra-conservative Breitbart News before going the Trump campaign, is a colourful and combative figure much in the mould of the Republican nominee himself. He has been a harsh critic of the Republican party establishment and has encouraged Trump to run as himself, an outsider with a strong populist message and appeal. He has been called the “most dangerous political operative in America” for his readiness to play hard and rough.
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is a veteran Republican party pollster and strategist who had headed a political action group backing Ted Cruz during the primaries.
The ousted head of Fox News Roger Ailes, who has been a long-time friend, is said to be helping the nominee prepare for the debates. Ailes brings a formidable reputation and experience to the job having helped three Republican presidents do this before — Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush. He is best known for making Nixon, a very awkward candidate with negligible personal charms, acceptable.
Roger Stone, a long-time Republican party operative who has often been called the “dirty trickster” for his willingness to fight dirty. He is supposed to be close to Trump despite leaving the campaign last August.
Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski who was fired in June is still close to Trump who continues to consult him regularly, as perhaps the most steadfast supporter of the Let-Trump-Be-Trump approach. For a brief time, Lewandowski had made it his life’s mission to sully Paul Manafort, with whom he had clashed as campaign manager.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a long time friend of the presidential nominee, heads the transition team which would lay the groundwork for Trump’s presidency if win. He has been a close adviser and was among those shortlisted as potential vice president before Trump chose Mike Pence as his running mate.
Christie is often spoken of as a possible attorney general in a Trump administration.
Foreign Policy/National Security
When asked about his foreign policy advisers, Trump once cited himself as one, saying he has a pretty good brain. That may still be true, but he has since acquired real advisers with some real experience. Senator Jeff Sessions, one of Trump’s earliest backers, heads the campaign’s foreign policy shop and shapes his belligerent views on immigration.
Retired general Micheal Flynn, who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency, was one of the few national security experts to have backed the Republican nominee, and has been called Trump’s favourite general. He accompanied the nominee to his first intelligence briefing this week.
Trump’s economic team is a 13-member group of billionaires led by Stephen Mnuchin, with no women. Another billionaire friend Carl Icahn, who was frequently mentioned by Trump on the campaign trail, was left out to start a political action committee in support of the nominee.