President Donald Trump announced a new campaign manager for his 2020 re-election, four months before voters head to the polls and he lags behind his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump said in Facebook post that he is removing his top campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and tapping Bill Stepien, his deputy campaign manager and a veteran Republican operative, to take over.
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Stepien was campaign manager to both of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s gubernatorial runs and served as his deputy chief of staff, but was fired in 2014 following the Bridgegate scandal that plagued the Republican lawmaker.
“Both were heavily involved in our historic 2016 win, and I look forward to having a big and very important second win together,” Trump said. “This one should be a lot easier as our poll numbers are rising fast, the economy is getting better, vaccines and therapeutics will soon be on the way, and Americans want safe streets and communities!”
The idea to promote Stepien and have him take the reins with only four months to go until the general election has been “flirted with” for months, per a Republican official, but some top campaign aides were caught off guard by the announcement on Facebook Tuesday night. Several told NBC News they were not aware this was being formalized in recent hours.
Stepien was named deputy campaign manager in May in an effort to layer Parscale, who had been in that role for more than two years but was under fire in the last few months for lagging polls. He will maintain his digital and data strategy duties, per the campaign.
This shakeup was not discussed in the political meeting at the White House on Monday, according to the GOP official.
The move comes weeks after Parscale boasted about millions of tickets being sold for Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month which brought lower-than-expected turnout and left the president fuming. It also comes as polls show the president trailing Biden months before the November elections.
Biden holds a double-digit lead nationally over Trump, with seven in 10 voters saying the country is on the wrong track and Americans disapproving of the president’s handling of the coronavirus, which has killed about 140,000 Americans, and race relations amid anti-racism protests over police brutality.
Dartunorro Clark is a political reporter for NBC News.
Monica Alba is a political reporter for NBC News.
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