POLITICS

Trump Demotes Campaign Manager Brad Parscale In Shake-Up

The White House said veteran political operative Bill Stepien will step into the role just four months before the 2020 election.

President Donald Trump will replace his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, amid lagging polls and a disastrous rally in Oklahoma last month, he announced Wednesday. 

“Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor to the campaign,” Trump wrote on Facebook as his favored medium, Twitter, was inaccessible following a massive hack. “I look forward to having a big and very important second win together. 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 New York Times was the first to report the news

Parscale, who has served as the president’s campaign manager since early 2018, will be replaced by Bill Stepien, a longtime political operative who worked on both New Jersey gubernatorial campaigns for Chris Christie before he was fired after the Bridgegate scandal.

He has been working as Trump’s deputy campaign manager. 

Recent polls have shown Trump trailing his presumptive competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden, by a wide margin as Americans grow increasingly concerned with his handling of the pandemic. COVID-19 cases are surging in almost every state in the country even as the White House pushes for schools to open in the fall and for the nation to continue efforts to reopen the economy.

Parscale’s role had been under increased scrutiny following Trump’s rally last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, meant to “reboot” the president’s campaign after the coronavirus pandemic put nearly all in-person events on ice. But the event, meant to host nearly 20,000 people at an indoor arena against the advice of medical officials, was a flop. The crowd was far smaller than expected and Trump was confronted with thousands of empty seats and forced to cancel an outdoor event at the last minute.

Tulsa’s top health official said the event also “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new COVID-19 cases in the state.

At the time, Parscale blamed the poor showing on “radical protesters” and “apocalyptic news coverage.”

He had denied any potential demotion as late as this week, telling The Washington Post on Monday that reports he was on the outs with Trump were the “same tired story being shopped every week.”

But the outlet, citing anonymous sources inside the administration, said Parscale’s days appeared numbered as Trump’s poll numbers declined amid the coronavirus and anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd. The Post said Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had begun interrupting Parscale more regularly.

Parscale has, however, retained some support from the Trump family. The Times’ Maggie Haberman noted that while many aides who have run afoul of the president have been pushed out unceremoniously, Parscale, who is close to the family, had been asked to stay on in a reduced capacity.

Kushner championed Parscale’s work in a statement later Wednesday, calling him an “unsung hero” who had a seminal role in Trump’s election. 

“Brad and Bill were both unsung heroes of the 2016 campaign and have done a great job building the infrastructure for the president’s campaign for the 2020 race,” Kushner told the Times of Parscale and his replacement. “Together they both bring unique strengths.”

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