Yep, The Trump Campaign Is The Death Star. Just Not How They Think.
At the best of times Trumpland leaks like a sieve. And these are not the best of times.
The president is getting murdered in the polls, with Fox News hosts reduced to pretending a pack of MAGA boaters constitute real data; the economy is in deep shit; and more than 170,000 Americans have succumbed to a deadly virus that we have no idea how to contain. So when Olivia Nuzzi came knocking for a New York Magazine story about the Trump campaign, you bet your ass those hacks spilled all the tea.
On Brad Parscale
"If he wasn't meeting with the president or going on the road, you weren't seeing him," one campaign source says of the recently "demoted" campaign manager. "He was only around for the high-profile, celebrity things."
And when the cat's away, the mice will play.
"He'd make phone calls from his house in Florida and brag that he was by the pool," a White House source blabbed. "And because he was never there, at the campaign office, people would leave at four o'clock in the afternoon."
People who were under the mistaken impression that this is a real presidential campaign, not just an extended exercise in grift, were appalled that Parscale's companies were siphoning off millions of dollars and cutting $15,000 checks every month to the Trump boys' partners, Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle.
"Everyone was like, What does he even do? He's just milking the family, basically. And nobody could understand why Jared and the family were putting up with it. That was the talk all the time," the White House source told Nuzzi. "Why? Why Brad? He's not some genius. And I guess people just came to the conclusion that, well, who else would be campaign manager? We're kind of stuck with this guy."
Because when your candidate is a demented garbage fire and everyone knows Jared Kushner is the real campaign manager, you're not getting a seasoned professional to run your campaign.
"Brad was willing to do whatever Jared said and keep quiet about it. Brad was willing to get yelled at by the president and not say to the president, 'Well, actually, this was Jared's decision,'" another White House source told Nuzzi. "And Jared got to rule from afar because Brad would do whatever he said. In return, Brad made a fuck-ton of money and got to live by the pool in Florida. It was almost like this weird mutual partnership, whether they knew it or not."
But apparently the host finally rejected the 6'8" parasite. After the Tulsa rally debacle, Parscale was a dead man walking, and on July 15 he was officially promoted back to being the Trump campaign's digital guru.
The morning after the deal was done, Parscale arrived at Trump headquarters. The staff crowded around as he recalled the earliest days of the campaign, when he said it was just him and five others working out of the basement of the Republican National Committee. Parscale became emotional — "choked up," as one campaign official put it — scanning the roomful of faces he'd hired to build an operation he said he was proud of. He said he knew that Stepien would lead the team over the finish line but that — despite what the press was reporting — he wasn't going anywhere.
"And then he literally just walked right out the door," the campaign official said with a laugh.
Some people heard he went straight to the airport — which he did, going home to Florida, as much an effort at sanity preservation as it was a courtesy to Stepien, who he feared wouldn't be able to assert himself while he was hanging around, hanging over him. A few hours later, he tweeted a Bible verse: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them."
"Haven't seen him since!" the campaign official said. "We didn't hardly see him before, either. But now we don't see him at all."
On Bill Stepien
Kellyanne Conway, who is evil in a "normal" DC kind of way, once chastised Trump during the 2016 campaign for surrounding himself with neophytes: "It's charming that Donald Trump has never been in politics before. It's not charming that the people who work for him have never worked in politics before."
The new campaign manager Bill Stepien is also "normally" evil, and he's definitely been in politics before. A veteran of multiple Republican campaigns, he got cast into the wilderness by Chris Christie after the Bridgegate debacle, and has been clawing his way back ever since. He's the guy who will finally impose some discipline on this campaign and rein in ...
QUIT LAUGHING, YOU GUYS!
On the surface, Stepien does seem to be trying to get the house in order, pausing all advertising for a week and then coming back with huge spends in early-voting states. He's making campaign staffers work real hours and trying to get the group to work as a team. But with 77 days to go, the polling is still shit for Trump.
Jason Miller tried to spin it for Nuzzi, saying, "I have much more timely data, and much more accurate data, than what you have access to. And it's improved over the last four weeks, and over the last two weeks, it definitely improved. We're headed in the right direction."
But aside from that outlier poll from CNN showing Trump behind just four points, Biden's eight or nine point lead has held steady since Stepien took over.
Perhaps it's because ...
Yeah, About That Death Star
It wouldn't be an Olivia Nuzzi joint without a gratuitous pantsing, and the Trump campaign's field operation in Pennsylvania generously offered up its Covid-sweats for the occasion.
Back in May, Parscale bragged about the vaunted Death Star he'd built up.
For nearly three years we have been building a juggernaut campaign (Death Star). It is firing on all cylinders. Da… https://t.co/qdMTx6k8K9— Brad Parscale (@Brad Parscale)1588858213.0
Cue the liberal tears!
Or not. Guess how many Trump campaign volunteer trainings Nuzzi showed up at only to find cheerful campaign staff addressing empty rooms devoid of volunteers.
If you guessed three, then you are right.
Except, whoops, we lied. The answer is two — the third event was scheduled at a coffee shop after closing time and no one showed up at all. Womp womp.
Anyway, if we lose this election, it sure won't be because they out-organized us.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.