President Donald Trump demoted his longtime campaign manager, a move aimed at shoring up his re-election bid as he trails Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, in opinion polls less than four months before the Nov. 3 vote.
Trump replaced the campaign manager, Brad Parscale, with his deputy, Bill Stepien, and deployed the former manager to a role focused on digital and data strategy.
Before the shake up, a leadership shakeup had long been rumored and Parscale was blamed internally for a botched Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally last month that drew a much smaller crowd than he predicted. A subsequent coronavirus outbreak forced Parscale and other campaign officials who attended to self-quarantine for two weeks.
A source close to the campaign said Trump has been anxious about the polls “and struck at the most visible target he could,” adding that Parscale has been “a straight-shooter about the president’s challenges.”
Stepien, a longtime Republican strategist, is well known to both Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been playing a more active role in the campaign. Stepien was political director at the White House before moving to the campaign.
In his statement, Trump credited both Parscale and Stepien for their involvement in his 2016 victory in the U.S. presidential election and predicted that he would glide to a second term in office.
“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,” Trump wrote.
The Republican president publicly has scoffed at the numerous opinion polls showing him behind Biden. Trump trailed Biden by 10 percentage points among registered voters in the latest poll.
Trump’s standing among voters has sagged this year as the coronavirus has killed tens of thousands of Americans and threw millions more out of work. Biden has blamed Trump for not taking more dramatic steps to curtail the pandemic’s spread.