Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Knives Out

As is the case with megalomaniacs, Trump is desperately searching for someone to blame for the skimpy turnout in Tulsa.

Donald Trump’s exhausted trudge from Marine One toward the White House after his botched rally in Tulsa, his red tie undone, a grim look on his face, a crumpled MAGA hat in his hand, is now an iconic image of his presidency. And as always with Trump, he’s already looking for someone to blame. The most obvious candidate, according to sources, is his embattled campaign manager, Brad Parscale. “Brad really shit the bed Saturday night. You have to remember, execution is 95% of presidential politics,” a Republican close to the White House told me over the weekend. Parscale committed a cascade of errors, from overhyping expected turnout to blaming the half-filled arena on protesters. Trump was so furious when he saw how thin the crowd was that he threatened to not go onstage, two sources briefed on the discussions told me. The sources said that Parscale, reading the tea leaves, is planning to step down. “He knows he can’t survive,” one source told me.

Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said Parscale is safe. “Brad is the campaign manager, and he’s the one in charge,” Miller said.

But one thing is for sure: The blame game has shifted into high gear. Trump insiders told me Trump was presented with five options of where to hold his rally. “The president chose Tulsa,” a source said. Sources also told me that if Parscale is forced out, he likely won’t be the only casualty of the rally fiasco. Trump is debating revoking his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s control over the campaign, sources said. As I previously reported, Trump has been frustrated with Kushner’s oversight of the campaign in light of polling that consistently shows Trump losing to Joe Biden. Another source of friction has been campaign spending and reports Trump has gotten that Parscale is making millions of dollars. “Did Jared allow this?” Trump asked advisers recently, according to a source. (Kushner declined to comment.)

One way to measure Kushner’s diminished influence will be found in whom Trump would choose to replace Parscale. Top candidates include 2016 veterans Miller, David Bossie, and Corey Lewandowski, all of whom Kushner successfully kept on the outer fringe of Trumpworld. “We can’t allow Jared’s stupid disagreements to get in the way,” Trump recently told advisers, according to a source briefed on the conversation.

Other Trump insiders are skeptical that Lewandowski would be put in charge of such a vast operation. “Corey was great when it was just Trump and an airplane. But let’s face it, he couldn’t manage a 7-Eleven,” a person close to Trump said. “The serious operation will be run by serious people.”

And of course it’s not his fault that he’s sinking in the polls.  It’s not his message, it’s his managers, it’s the best people that he hired that turned out to be wackos and sick puppies.  It’s the bunker mentality, and the bombs are falling.

If there’s a Campaign Karma, this discombobulated campaign will crater in the same spectacular fashion that Trump’s rallies did in the opposite direction in 2016.  Then he was the insurgent, the outsider, the revolutionary attacking the capital.  Now he’s the incumbent, and the old campaign won’t work anymore.  But he can’t accept that; he’s still running against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

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