Gabriel Sherman of the Vanity Fair talks about Trumps possible team for the 2020 election and the resurgence of Steve Bannon.
He’s going to fieldstrip these guys”: inside the trump 2020 campaign’s wild, disorganized attempt to “keep America great”
The president is running his re-election campaign precisely the way he governs—playing three opposing power centers off each other, and listening mainly to his own instincts. It’s going to get ugly, and soon. “We’re going to call them out,” says Steve Bannon. “Kirsten Gillibrand, show us what you got. Elizabeth Warren? Kamala Harris? Howard Schultz?
He’s going to cut through these guys like a scythe through grass.”
Trump is doing what he loves most: running for president. His re-election effort is typically Trumpian: sprawling, disjointed, and bursting with confidence.
In February, Trump announced that Brad Parscale, the digital guru with the Billy Gibbons beard who led his 2016 online strategy, would be his 2020 campaign manager.
Trump has been crisscrossing the country holding fund-raisers, building up a war chest of $88 million in his first 18 months. Many cast members from the original campaign are expected to reprise their starring roles, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, as well as Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, and Kellyanne Conway. Even Bannon is starting to find his way back into Trump’s orbit.
This fall, Trump plans to deliver slashing stump speeches that stoke his base while defining his likely Democratic challengers long before they launch campaigns of their own. He’s already rolled out his campaign slogan: “Keep America Great.”
The logic underpinning a second Trump victory isn’t only a paranoid Democratic fantasy. “Democrats should be very, very worried,” Dan Pfeiffer, Barack Obama’s former communications director, told me recently. “We have more voters than they do, but we can only win if we get them out. Complacency hurt Democrats last time because we assumed Trump would lose.”
Trump’s own data guys have a slightly different interpretation. “The best way to win in 2020 is to win in 2018,” said Bill Stepien, with a straight face. It was a swampy Washington Friday in mid-June, and I was sitting with Stepien, the White House political director, in his office turned war room on the first floor of the Executive Office Building.
I asked Stepien what the White House learned from the special elections in 2017, in which Democrats won decisively in Virginia, Alabama, and Pennsylvania. “The special elections were elections in a vacuum,” he said. He contended that the candidates in those races ran as centrists, while the party’s midterm candidates, and likely 2020 candidates, will be far to the left of the mainstream. “[Bernie] Sanders, [Kamala] Harris, [Elizabeth] Warren. They’re all going to out-left each other,” Stepien said. “That is a very good thing for this Republican president.”
Trump has increasingly turned to a shadow political operation, composed of a few very familiar faces. The outside group was put together by, of all people, Trump’s former campaign chairman Steve Bannon.
Members include 2016-campaign veterans like Lewandowski, Bossie, and communications director Jason Miller; former national-security aide Sebastian Gorka; Breitbart Washington editor Matthew Boyle; and former Trump aide Sam Nunberg. Throughout the day, Bannon checks in by phone with his allies to hash out talking points that Trump surrogates can deploy in the media.
Source: Vanity Fair