NEW YORK, June 21, 2016 — The Trump presidential campaign has fired Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager. Lewandowski had been on the “hot seat” multiple times in recent months, following his confrontation with former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields.
This shake up signals the Trump campaign’s acknowledgement that an overhaul is needed ahead of the general election.
Trump has suffered major setbacks since becoming the GOP’s presumptive nominee last month. He’s come under intense criticism from party leaders, major donors and rank-and-file Republicans for an array of issues—including his response to the terrorist attack in Orlando that killed 49 people.
Lewandowski told CNN that he has no idea why he was fired by the campaign.
Trump’s children worried that Lewandowski presented multiple problems for Trump. They saw him as a drag on the campaign, fearing that he would scare off experienced, veteran strategists interested in joining the campaign. Trump’s failure to tone down his rhetoric heading into the general election is a major issue that has been tied to Lewandowski’s role as campaign manager and his mantra, “let Trump be Trump.”
With Lewandowski’s departure, Trump’s chief political strategist, Paul Manafort, will step in as campaign manager. Manafort has tried to polish Trump’s public image and restructure his campaign along more traditional lines, but in the process he has clashed with Lewandowski. The campaign so far has failed to gel into a clean, unified operation.
Trump stuck by Lewandowski when he was accused of roughing up Fields and fellow reporters demanded that he be fired. Trump said then, “I don’t do that. I’m loyal.” But Trump’s poll numbers were rising then; they’ve since begun to fall. The loose and relatively small campaign organization that brought Trump this far has been less effective in the post-primary stage of the race. As one instance if this, the campaign must build out its communications team in order to respond to the high volumes of media requests that come with being the GOP nominee.
Lewandowski’s firing came as a surprise, probably to Lewandowski as well as to his associates. He was at Trump’s side at campaign appearances this weekend, and his unrivaled personal access to Trump seemed to insulate him from criticism.
But it was time for him to go. One of the biggest impediments to a firm’s growth is its founders, who think that what made them successful to that point will make them successful indefinitely. Trump’s campaign outgrew Lewandowski.
While Lewandowski can be blamed for allowing Trump’s rhetoric to get unnecessarily overheated, it will still be up to Trump to calm his demeanor and deliver a message detailing his plan to “Make America Great Again For All People.”