Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager told reporters on a conference call today that Donald Trump’s campaign shake-up was “not surprising” and could bring more Republicans to the side of the Democratic nominee.
Trump announced that Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon will be CEO of his campaign and pollster Kellyanne Conway will be his campaign manager. Paul Manafort will stay as campaign chairman 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,” Trump said in a statement released by his campaign. “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.”
On the call arranged by the Clinton camp, campaign manager Robby Mook said that “after several failed attempts to pivot into a more serious and presidential mode, Donald Trump has decided to double down on his most small, nasty and divisive instincts by turning his campaign over to someone best known for running a so-called news site that peddles divisive, at times racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”
Mook noted that “no matter how the establishment wants to clean Donald Trump up, get him on a teleprompter and get him on message, he has officially won the fight to let Trump be Trump.”
“He keeps telling us who he is; it’s time we believe him,” he added.
Mook said that under Bannon’s leadership the Breitbart site has defended white supremacists, used “anti-LGBT slurs in their coverage frequently,” and pushed “all sorts of deranged conspiracy theories.”
He predicted that the “coming weeks” will reveal “more of what, at the end of the day, really scares voters about Donald Trump.”
Before news of Trump’s new hires broke Tuesday, the Clinton campaign released a lengthy challenge to Trump’s “deranged conspiracy” about Hillary’s health, calling it a ploy to distract from his unwillingness to release his tax returns.
“Hillary Clinton has released a detailed medical record showing her to be in excellent health plus her personal tax returns since 1977, while Trump has failed to provide the public with the most basic financial information disclosed by every major candidate in the last 40 years,” said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
Trump “confidant and discredited conspiracy peddler Roger Stone and his right-wing allies” have been circulating fake medical documents, the release said, and the Clinton campaign added a statement from Dr. Lisa Bardack, Hillary’s internist and chairman of the Department of Medicine at CareMount Medical, stating “these documents are false, were not written by me and are not based on any medical facts.”
The campaign pushback also noted that a doctor featured on Hannity last week to study whether Clinton was showing lingering symptoms from head trauma was a urologist.
Trump, 70, has hinted at the health rumors on the campaign trail, telling a crowd Tuesday in Wisconsin that Clinton, 68, “doesn’t have that strength or stamina, believe me” to fight terrorism — “and you know it and they know it and everybody knows it.”
Mook was asked today if the Clinton campaign was going to push back on future conspiracy theories like they did with the health allegations, or if they were going to ignore them.
The campaign manager replied that they “absolutely expect with this change more wild accusations” against Clinton, but “people like Bannon and Breitbart have been going after Hillary every day for this entire campaign and she’s still standing strong.”
Hillary’s camp began the day by releasing a statement from former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, who served during the Bush administration, stressing her loyalty to party but inability to support this year’s nominee.
“I have disagreed with and criticized Hillary Clinton’s positions, but I have come to the conclusion that she would be a far better president than the Republican candidate could ever be. She understands that words spoken from the White House have consequences, that sarcasm is not a strategy when dealing with delicate world situations, that our friends and foes listen to every word spoken by our president and react accordingly,” Marin said. “…My party and its standard bearer leave me no choice; on November 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Mook told reporters the campaign is “grateful to have received support from a lot of Republicans at this point,” and Trump’s “decision to double down… may compel other Republicans to support her.”
“Particuarly now he’s made so clear this is the direction he needs to go and the direction he would take this country,” he added.
Clinton currently leads Trump by 6 points in a two-way race in the Real Clear Politics polling average. With Libertarian Gary Johnson added to the poll, Clinton leads by 6.2 points. In a four-way poll that adds Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Clinton also leads by 6.2 points.
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