(Headline USA) President Donald Trump shook up his campaign staff less than four months before the election, replacing campaign manager Brad Parscale with veteran GOP operative Bill Stepien.
“I am pleased to announce that Bill Stepien has been promoted to the role of Trump Campaign Manager,” Trump said Wednesday on Facebook. “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 and Parscale’s relationship had been increasingly strained, with the president allegedly annoyed by the publicity Parscale had garnered in the role. But the final straw appeared to be a Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally last month that drew an unexpectedly low crowd of about 6,200 people after Parscale had bragged that more than a million people had requested tickets.
The shakeup injected turmoil to Trump’s 2020 campaign, which had so far largely avoided the regular staff churn that dominated the president’s 2016 campaign and his White House. It comes as Trump is dealing with the nation facing health and economic crises during a pandemic that has killed more than 135,000 Americans.
The staff change was not expected to alter the day-to-day running of the campaign. News of the shuffle was delivered to Parscale on Wednesday afternoon by White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Parscale, a political novice, ran Trump’s digital advertising in 2016 and was credited with helping bring about his surprise victory that year. Stepien has been in politics for years, working for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and serving as Trump’s national field director in 2016.
Parscale had been increasingly sidelined in the weeks since the Tulsa rally. Speculation had been rampant about who might be promoted to lead the operation, with names like former Trump strategist Steve Bannon floated.
Parscale is a close ally of Kushner, who wields ultimate control over the campaign.
Rather than parting ways completely, Parscale was retained in part because of the difficulty the campaign would have faced in rebuilding its digital advertising operation so close to the Nov. 3 general election. While the Republican National Committee owned most of the campaign’s data, voter modeling and outreach tools, Parscale ran most of the microtargeted online advertising that Trump aides believed were key in 2016.
Parscale’s digital advertising firm was among the campaign’s most significant vendors.
Fox News reported that some in the campaign were “shocked,” but an unidentified senior administration official said, “They shouldn’t be.”
“Had to happen,” the official said. “This doesn’t surprise anyone who knows POTUS and how he wants his campaign run.”
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.