Early this morning Donald Trump announced a shake-up. Trump has hired Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon to become the Campaign CEO. Kellyanne Conway, who has been a part of the campaign since June, has been promoted to campaign manager. Paul Manafort will stay on in his role as campaign chair and chief strategist.
“I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years. They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win,” said Trump said in a released statement. “I believe we’re adding some of the best talents in politics, with the experience and expertise needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November and continue to share my message and vision to Make America Great Again. I am committed to doing whatever it takes to win this election, and ultimately become President because our country cannot afford four more years of the failed Obama-Clinton policies which have endangered our financial and physical security.”
Bannon will oversee the campaign staff and operations in addition to strategic oversight of major campaign initiatives in addition to working Manafort. Conway’s job is to work on messaging and will travel with Trump.
Bannon has an impressive resume prior to becoming the executive editor of Breitbart News. He holds a Masters in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to joining Breitbart News, Bannon was an officer in the U.S. Navy and also owned an investment bank that he sold to Societe Generale.
One thing that is lacking however is campaign experience. I’ve known Steve Bannon, professionally, for a number of years. We met when he made the documentary The Undefeated that featured Sarah Palin. I’ve also been on his radio program he launched as part of Brietbart that is heard on the Patriot channel on Sirius XM radio.
Bannon has unfortunately led the charge at Breitbart from being a noteworthy conservative news source to what many of us now refer to as “Trumpbart” which has become nothing more than a propaganda tool for Donald Trump and the “Alt-Right.” While Bannon is on the campaign he will step down, temporarily, as the executive editor of Breitbart News. I don’t see Breitbart News pivoting away from their current trajectory in Bannon’s absence however.
During the primaries it became pretty obvious that Breitbart News favored Donald Trump. I was on Bannon’s radio show right before the Iowa Caucus. When I suggested that Trump would not win the Iowa Caucus, that he wasn’t organized well enough in Iowa to win, Bannon was skeptical (putting it mildly).
In hiring Bannon Trump has someone who will tickle his itching ears. He has an apologist for “let Trump be Trump.” That strategy obviously worked well in the primaries. The Washington Post wrote this about Bannon this morning:
Bannon, in phone calls and meetings, has been urging Trump for months to not mount a fall campaign that makes Republican donors and officials comfortable, the aides said. Instead, Bannon has been telling Trump to run more fully as an outsider and an unabashed nationalist.
Trump has listened intently to Bannon and agreed with him, believing that voters will ultimately want a presidential candidate who represents disruption more than a candidate with polished appeal, the aides said.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to those of us following the campaign. Trump will not pivot, and now he has brought someone on who will tell him that he doesn’t have to.
Update: Ben Shapiro, who used to be the editor-at-large for Breitbart News, has a must read article about Steve Bannon.