The 3 Phases Of The Donald Trump Campaign

The recent promotion of Kellyanne Conway to new campaign manager ushers in the third and likely final phase in Donald Trump’s inconceivable bid for the White House.

Corey Lewandowski, now a commentator on CNN, was hired by Donald Trump in February 2015 and represented the well-received motto in the Republican Party base: “Let Trump be Trump.” That strategy clicked with Republican voters in the primaries, where Trump out-maneuvered and out-insulted his primary challengers.

Then Lewandowski was accused of “manhandling” former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and was named in a Florida lawsuit. His campaign responsibilities were narrowed — and Trump turned elsewhere.

When it became clear the candidate would face a serious challenge from unsympathetic delegates and party officials at the Republican National Convention, he looked for a more politically savvy staffer. Paul Manafort was hired in March 2016.



Manafort helped secure him the nomination and brought in a new phase: teleprompter use and somewhat more serious foreign and domestic policy speeches, so Trump could appeal to a wider Republican contingent. Then came the Russian-Ukrainian debacles — and Manafort had to go.

Questions have been raised about the rigor of Trump's vetting process, raising concerns of the type of conflicts we might see in a Trump administration.

Conway, Trump’s newest campaign manager, is already attempting to soften Trump’s image in the press. A deportation force in a Trump administration is now “TBD,” according to Conway.

On MSNBC, she looked to ease the apprehension women have about Trump: “This is a man who just promoted a woman without using the word. I think you should judge people by their actions, not just their words on a political campaign trail.”

In a presidential campaign, all voters have to illustrate what a candidate stands for and believes in are "words" -- being held accountable for them is central to the job Trump is vying for. To suggest otherwise is to reject a fundamental tenet of leadership, an odd notion for a campaign manager.

Still, Conway’s promotion makes sense, as she is well respected in conservative Republican circles, having worked for Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence. She also has strong relationships with a number of important GOP donors.

Were these hiring phases expected by Trump and his inner-family circle? Or did past and present actions of his first two top staff members force Trump’s hand?

Lewandowski probably didn’t have the experience or political breadth to mount a delegate-wrangling push, but he also got Trump through a heavily contested primary cycle against all odds. Lewandowski’s brash style was clear to all, but a physical altercation was unexpected.

Trump must have known about Manafort’s dealings with pro-Russian Ukrainians, but he might not have known about the off-the-books, mob-like ledgers exhibiting his name.

Conway, as a new public face of the Trump campaign, faces an uphill battle against the GOP establishment, a far more sophisticated Hillary Clinton campaign, and polls that show Trump with a slim chance of winning in November.

One thing we can be relatively sure of -- Conway will chug this one out until the end.

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