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Trump campaign operation takes shape before expected 2024 announcement

Trump campaign operation takes shape before expected 2024 announcement

A trio of a long-time Republican operatives will lead Donald Trump's 2024 campaign, which the former president is set to announce on Tuesday evening in the ballroom of his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, say five people familiar with the staffing decisions.

There are expected to be notable differences from his 2020 campaign, advisers say. His nascent presidential bid is not expected to have a traditional campaign manager, with multiple advisers in top roles, according to some of the people familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Trump is famous for firing campaign managers.

Compared with 2020, the 2024 bid is expected to have a smaller staff and budget, advisers say, as Trump has complained that his failed 2020 campaign had too many people and spent too much money. He often told people that he did not even know what some of the people in his past campaign did.

The new campaign is expected to be based in South Florida, advisers say, instead of having a Washington presence.

Trump has told others he wants to re-create the underdog vibe of the 2016 campaign. He faces a range of challenges, including multiple federal and state investigations, growing criticism from Republicans, and unpopularity in many of the early 2024 states.

Trump is famous for overriding campaign advisers and pitting aides against one another, and some allies have predicted drama and cinematic firings – before the campaign has even launched.

The top advisers included Chris LaCivita, a long-time Republican strategist who was directing a super PAC tied to Trump, and Susie Wiles, a Florida political consultant who helped Trump win the state in his previous two presidential bids and had led his political operation for the past 18 months.

LaCivita was expected to take the leading role but duties would probably be split between him and Wiles, a top campaign adviser said. The group of top advisers also included Brian Jack, who served as a senior political aide in the White House and had advised Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) since 2021.

A spokesperson did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Taylor Budowich, Trump's spokesperson, would move to lead an outside super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc.

Trump who, on Truth Social on Monday, wrote that he hoped Tuesday would be "one of the most important days in the history of our country", is building an operation full of familiar faces with whom the former president, long distrustful of Washington insiders, was comfortable.

The former president had told aides he was eager for this campaign to resemble his 2016 effort, the top campaign adviser said.

Wiles, the daughter of the late football player and television sportscaster Pat Summerall, helped lead Trump's Florida team to victory in 2016 and 2020. She is a polite yet steely grandmother who has managed to command the respect of Trump's fractious orbit and speaks frequently to Trump, having led his PAC for the past year. Trump has told others he trusts her political instincts after she helped him win Florida twice. She has deep ties in Florida politics, and an acrimonious relationship with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a potential Trump foe in 2024. She ran for DeSantis's campaign in 2018 for governor and has previously worked for Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida.

LaCivita, a Virginia political consultant, helped lead the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth campaign against John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee. During the 2020 campaign, he ran Preserve America PAC, a group that spent more than $100 million to support Trump and was funded almost entirely by entities linked to Sheldon Adelson, the late Las Vegas casino magnate.

More recently, in 2022, LaCivita worked on the successful re-election campaign for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and served as the senior strategist for the Trump-backed outside group, Make America Great Again Inc., which can raise unlimited sums of money.

Jack, a veteran of Trump's 2016 campaign, went on to work in the White House political office for four years. He later joined McCarthy's team, managing his national political operation where the two men worked to counsel Trump on his involvement in the 2022 midterm contests.

Jack was expected to take a senior role in the Trump campaign early next year, after finishing his work for McCarthy over the coming weeks.

Steven Cheung was also expected to join the campaign in a top communications role, said three people familiar with the decision.

Cheung worked on Trump's 2016 campaign as director of rapid response and then joined his White House, staying for two years. He also worked as the communications director for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Kellyanne Conway, who managed Trump's 2016 campaign, was expected to be involved in some capacity, two people familiar with the situation said. However, Conway, who has four teenage children and a Fox News contract, was unlikely to move to South Florida.

It was unclear who would be the public-facing spokesperson for the campaign; a decision had not been made, advisers said.

And Tony Fabrizio, who served as a top Trump campaign pollster, would handle polling for a pro-Trump super PAC, two people familiar with the decision said. Other pollsters who had worked for Trump, including the McLaughlin Group, might continue to play a role, a person familiar with the situation said.

Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, played a major role in his first two campaigns, both taking senior adviser roles in his White House. Now, however, the couple had no plans to get involved in the 2024 effort, a person familiar with the situation said.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump, however, retained close relationships with the former president, the person added; they played golf with him on Friday, and spent the weekend with him at Mar-a-Lago for his daughter Tiffany Trump's wedding, as well.

Donald Trump Jnr, Trump's eldest son, would probably play a role similar to the ones he played in his father's previous bids – campaigning for him in states where he could be helpful and offer advice when asked – but would not take on the role previously occupied by Kushner, a person familiar said.

Boris Epshteyn, a pugilistic communications consultant who helped encourage Trump's baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen, was expected to be a senior adviser. Sergio Gor, a former aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a former Trump fund-raiser, was also expected to take on an advisory role. And Gary Coby, a long-time Republican digital and Trump strategist, is expected to continue to do digital work for the campaign.

Trump had started interviewing campaign staff in recent days. His advisers had hoped he would delay his announcement a bit longer so they could set up more of a robust campaign apparatus, people familiar with the situation said.

Many of his longest-serving advisers have said privately they weren't sure whether they wanted to be on another Trump campaign; many have received subpoenas in recent months because of their ties to Trump and his orbit and haf grown frustrated with his erratic behaviour since losing the presidency.

Multiple Trump allies added that the former president had been in an extremely foul mood since last week's elections when Republicans performed far worse than expected, and some donors and fellow Republicans publicly blamed Trump for the poor showing.

Tuesday, however, could provide Trump with an opportunity to move past the midterms, and onto what he hopes will be a winning presidential effort.

Gary Maloney, a Republican consultant to more than a dozen presidential campaigns, praised the early contours of Trump's 2024 team, calling them "the gold standard of GOP consulting".

"The quality of the team is clear," Maloney said. "Now, will Trump listen to them."

The Washington Post

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