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Trump Takes His Own Advice Frustrating GOP

Donald Trump is reportedly having trouble ceding control of many aspects of his campaign to staffers, now that he is the presumptive GOP nominee.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a reluctant Trump supporter, said that he urged the businessman to beef up his campaign staff. Most importantly, he told Trump to hire a “rapid-response” person to deal with negative stories in the Press.

“I am the rapid response person,” Trump allegedly replied.

From the Hill

Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other GOP office holders have recoiled over many of Trump’s public remarks, most recently his racially-charged comments about the federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University.

Trump suggested the Indiana-born judge was biased against him because of his “Mexican heritage.”

McConnell this week spoke out in frustration, urging Trump to strike a more presidential tone and avoid personal attacks on ethnic groups or his fellow Republicans.

He urged Trump to “get on message.”

But it’s not clear that Trump wants to follow anyone’s script but his own— or even to take advice from the leaders of the party he now represents.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a former Marine who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said he and his staff send information about national security to Trump’s campaign. 

But Hunter is under no illusions that he’s having much influence over Trump’s decision-making.

“I think he mostly listens to himself and that’s that,” said Hunter, one of the first members of Congress to endorse Trump.

“I’m not kidding,” he added through a laugh. “When he gave his speech [on Tuesday night] with a teleprompter — I am surprised he lets someone write him anything.”

Trump’s Tuesday-night speech was notable because of the teleprompter.

It was an address that was aimed clearly at Republican office holders worried about Trump’s candidacy, and was intended to make them feel better about their candidate.

Republican National Committee Reince Priebus tweeted his support for the speech.

 

But it’s unclear whether the scripted speech reflected a change for Trump or was simply a momentary correction to appease critics.

Nervous Republicans are now wondering: Will Trump start to take more advice from Priebus and other GOP officials? Or will he keep his own counsel, for the most part?

Michael D’Antonio, a Trump biographer and author of the book ‘Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success,’ said if history is any guide, Trump will continue relying almost solely on his own judgment and is more inclined to bristle at criticism rather than accept it.

“He values loyalty above all else and he thinks that criticism or pushback is personal and insulting and a kind of challenge to his very being,” D’Antonio said.

“He’s also someone who I don’t think has been told ‘no’ very much in the last 30 or 40 years,” he added. “He has a hard time listening to dissent. It’s very painful for him.”

Gingrich said it’d be crazy to expect that Trump will fundamentally change.

The former House Speaker, who has known Trump for many years and has been a political adviser to the billionaire, said Trump is already becoming more of a “team player” but will never surround himself with the kind of political infrastructure you’d see with a conventional candidate like Hillary Clinton or the 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

“Almost all candidates are products of the corporate culture,” Gingrich said.

In a typical presidential campaign, “there’s somebody who raises money, somebody who thinks about strategy, somebody who thinks about media,” he added. “Everything’s delegated and they operate within a box.”

But Trump, who sends off rapid-fire tweets and calls into morning shows to fight back on the issues of the day, is the master strategist in all these arenas, which makes him effectively a one-man band — something unprecedented in modern politics, Gingrich said. 

Sources close to Trump say he sees no reason why he should change the formula that has got him this far.

They point to recent comments by Trump that he doesn’t believe he needs to raise $1 billion for the general election campaign; that he’ll instead rely on getting free publicity on cable shows and through his enormous social media presence. 

True to his word, Trump has rejected pleas to build a conventional fundraising team. He has only a skeletal fundraising outfit, led by a New York banker Steve Mnuchin, who has a history of giving more heavily to Democrats and only has relatively thin connections in Republican politics.  

People in Trump’s orbit point to a few people who can get in Trump’s ear.

Trump’s closest confidante on Capitol Hill is Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who Trump speaks of reverently. Trump is also said to be growing closer to Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who will co-host a fundraiser for him in Georgia next week along with the state’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal.

Trump also has a personal connection with a couple of former presidential rivals in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

He relies heavily on former Carson advisers and speaks regularly with renegade Republican operative Roger Stone.

There are also several lower-profile advisers in regular contact with Trump, such as Don Benton, the chairman of Trump’s campaign in Washington state, and Michael McDonald, the chairman of the Nevada Republican Party.

Both men, who are veteran politicos, are said to have Trump’s ear and respect. He’s willing to hear them out more than many others in his orbit, sources say.

Trump certainly listens to members of his family, particularly his daughter Ivanka Trump, and sons Don Jr. and Eric, who double as surrogates.

The RNC has essentially become Trump’s campaign apparatus, providing him with a ground game, data analytics, and fundraising and communications support. 

But the party’s support will likely remain more logistical than strategic. Concerns are raised with Trump, but they are done so in the knowledge that Trump has got this far by rejecting the advice of party experts rather than listening to it. They know he’s unlikely to start bowing to authority now he’s on verge of the nomination. 

Priebus, who speaks to Trump daily, according to RNC strategist Sean Spicer, reportedly had a hand in getting Trump to put a lid on the controversy surrounding the judge.

At the same time, Spicer acknowledges that Priebus’s influence is limited.

“No one is going to get him to do anything and it’s that authenticity that attracts a lot of people to him,” he said,

Spicer said the RNC played no role in Trump’s speech on Tuesday night.

And while the establishment is comforted by Teleprompter Trump, nobody thinks it will become a fixture on the campaign trail. 

“I think people might try to rein him in and he probably tells them to go to hell,” said Hunter.

 

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