President Trump replaces Brad Parscale with former Chris Christie aide Bill Stepien; Peter Doocy reports.
President Trump’s outgoing reelection campaign manager and his successor met Thursday with staffers at the campaign’s headquarters in Arlington, Va., for a transfer-of-power type of ceremony.
Hours later new campaign manager Bill Stepien said the person he replaced – Brad Parscale – "will remain heavily involved."
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And in a message to Trump campaign staffers, Stepien wrote "our goal is clear – to win each day we have left until election day."
Stepien also vowed to "expose" Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who he charged was "a hapless tool of the extreme left."
Stepien's statement and the earlier all-hands-on-deck gathering came hours after the president on Wednesday evening removed Parscale as campaign manager and replaced him with Stepien, who had been serving as deputy campaign manager.
Parscale was “emotional, but heartfelt” in handing the campaign over to Stepien, two senior campaign officials told Fox News. They added that Stepien encouraged everyone to “ignore the media-driven narrative” that the president was losing to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Another campaign official – who also asked for anonymity to speak more freely – said Stepien gave a “very uplifting and inspiring speech, making sure the campaign is focused every minute on thinking about ways to persuade voters to the voting booth. That is the focus.”
The official added that the meeting “gives us the direction that we need to get us through these last 109 days” until November’s presidential election.
Parscale, who ran digital operations for the president’s 2016 presidential campaign and was promoted to Trump’s campaign manager for the 2020 cycle, is expected to shift back to his previous role. Two top campaign officials told Fox News that Parscale will serve as a senior adviser focusing entirely on the campaign’s digital operation and data collection.
Demoted Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale (left) and newly-named manager Bill Stepien (Reuters, AP)
“Brad’s going to focus on one thing, Bill is going to focus on the other, but both are working toward victory," Trump campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley said Thursday on "America's Newsroom."
Following Thursday’s meeting, Parscale tweeted “Romans 12:14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” The Bible verse centers on Paul the Apostle’s teachings to Christians to resist striking back at those who are being hurtful toward you.
Speculation has swirled for weeks about Parscale’s future, as Trump has fallen behind the former vice president in nearly all national and many key battleground state public opinion polls.
Stepien, in his statement, slammed the surveys.
"The same media polls that had the world convinced that Hillary Clinton would be elected in 2016 are trying the same trick again in 2020. It won't work," he stressed.
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The campaign shakeup came nearly a month after Trump struggled to fill seats at his rally in Tulsa, Okla.
The campaign had touted in the days before the rally – which was the president’s first and only large-scale rally since the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation in March – that 1 million people had signed up for tickets. But the large crowds never materialized and portions of the Tulsa arena’s upper deck were empty as Trump spoke.
Last week the campaign abruptly canceled the second rally, which was supposed to have been held in New Hampshire. The campaign pointed to severe storms that were forecast but never materialized. Some Republican sources say concerns about attendance at the rally were also a factor in the event’s postponement.
The president’s campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) have also been slightly outraised each of the past two months by Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). But the Trump campaign and the RNC – which had a combined $295 million in their coffers as of the end of last month – retained a large cash-on-hand advantage over Biden and the DNC.
On Thursday, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillion announced that as of July 1 the former vice president’s team and the DNC “have $242 million cash on hand. That means we’ve made a $100 million dent in his COH in three months – and we did it thanks to the power of our grassroots."
Trump announced his campaign shake-up in a statement on social media.
“I am pleased to announce that Bill Stepien has been promoted to the role of Trump Campaign Manager,” the president said in a statement. “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 Adviser to the campaign.”
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The shake-up follows a similar one less than a month ago, when Michael Glassner, organizer of the president’s rallies, was reassigned, and Jeff DeWit, who served as Arizona chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, joined the 2020 staff as chief operating officer.
Stepien has a long resume in campaign politics. He’s a veteran of President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani’s 2008 White House bid, and the campaign of 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain. Stepien also managed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 2009 and 2013 gubernatorial victories before falling out of good graces with the governor due to the Bridgegate scandal. Stepien also served as national field director for Trump during the 2016 general election.
A GOP operative close to the Trump campaign and to Stepien told Fox News that “Bill’s MO is to keep under the radar and keep his head down and stay focused on the job. So if anything, all the attention he’s gotten probably makes him a little uncomfortable. … he knows his role is to be the guy behind the guy.”
Contrasting Stepien with Parscale, the operative said: “I don’t think you’re going to see Bill Stepien going up on stage at a Trump rally and throwing out hats.”
A Trump campaign official described Stepien as “a no-nonsense, very straight shooter.”
The official predicted that Stepien will be focused on mail-in and absentee ballot fights in the states across the country, while also noting that the focus of the campaign moving forward will be “ensuring we are able to get out the vote.”
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The question going forward is when Stepien will make changes at the campaign – and how extensive those changes would be.
A major campaign shake-up in the general election for Trump is hardly unprecedented. In 2016, Trump had three campaign managers: Corey Lewandowski, who ran Trump’s primary campaign and was removed ahead of the conventions; Paul Manafort, who ran Trump’s campaign during the convention and then was removed, and is now currently serving jail time for charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation; and Kellyanne Conway, who led the campaign through the general election to Trump’s victory.