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Trump hires head of a right-wing website in latest campaign reshuffle

Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman, has come under scrutiny for his links to the pro-Russia former president of Ukraine.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Image: AP/Press Association Images

DONALD TRUMP ANNOUNCED today that he shaking up his senior campaign staff, appointing a conservative website executive and a pollster to head his team amid sinking poll numbers.

The Republican presidential nominee also announced that this week his campaign will launch TV ads for the first time.

Trump’s reluctance to buy TV spots has raised eyebrows as his unorthodox quest for the White House has run into trouble in recent weeks.

Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of the influential Breitbart News site, will serve as the campaign’s chief executive, the Trump campaign said in a statement.

Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Republican pollster, will become campaign manager.

Campaign 2016 Trump Aide Ukraine Paul Manafort Source: Carolyn Kaster

Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman who in recent days has come under scrutiny for his links to the pro-Russia former president of Ukraine, will remain in his current role.

“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 the statement.

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.

 ’Core four’ 

Bannon will oversee campaign staff and operations and “strategic oversight of major campaign initiatives,” the statement said.

Conway will focus on “messaging”, regularly travelling with Trump while also working closely with Manafort and Bannon, the statement said.

Campaign 2016 Source: AP/Press Association Images

The campaign said the changes come amid what it called significant growth for the Trump candidacy, “with the first major TV ad buy of the general election slated to start later this week and with additional top-flight operatives joining the movement on a near-daily basis”.

Conway denied the staff changes constitute a shake-up.

“It’s an expansion at a busy time in the final stretch of the campaign,” she told The New York Times.

“We met as the ‘core four’ today,” she was quoted as saying, referring to herself, Bannon, Manafort and Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates.

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With 82 days to go until the election, Trump’s campaign has been listing badly following a recent series of gaffes that had even members of his own party begging him to reel in his brash remarks.

Trump’s denigration of the family of a fallen Muslim-American soldier was seen by many as a monumental campaign misstep and a turning point in the contentious 2016 presidential race.

According to a NBC News/Survey Monkey poll released Tuesday, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton holds a six-point lead over Trump, 43% to his 37%, with two minor party candidates securing a combined 15%

In June, Trump dumped his then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who had been credited with the real estate magnate’s initial breakthrough in the primaries.

But in the lead-up to the Republican Party convention, Lewandowski found himself sidelined by more experienced political operatives like Manafort.

Lewandowski had also attracted distracting controversy following a run-in with a Breitbart News reporter at a Trump rally who accused him of roughly grabbing her arm.

- © AFP, 2016

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