Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shook up the top leadership of his campaign Wednesday, less than three months before Americans choose who will take over the White House in January.
He hired Stephen Bannon, a senior executive at the conservative news website Breitbart, to be campaign CEO and promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager.
“They’re terrific people, they’re winners, they’re champs, and we need to win it,” Trump told the Associated Press.
He said the moves do not affect the role of Paul Manafort, who has been running the campaign since Trump fired former campaign chief Corey Lewandowski in June.
Manafort has faced scrutiny for his ties to the pro-Russia former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who was ousted in 2014. Wednesday’s shakeup comes days after the New York Times reported the existence of secret ledgers in Ukraine that show $12.7 million in cash designated for Manafort.
Manafort denied receiving any off-the-books cash payments for his work in Ukraine, calling the allegation “unfounded, silly and nonsensical.”
Trump is running for his first elected office and trails his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton by about 6 percentage points in a range of national polls.
Clinton’s campaign has called for full disclosure of any ties between pro-Russia entities and Manafort or anyone else from Trump’s team.
At his latest campaign event Tuesday night in the northern state of Wisconsin, Trump said if elected he would make senior officials sign an agreement barring them from accepting fees for speeches from “any entity tied to a foreign government” or any company that has a registered lobbyist. The ban would last for five years.
On Wednesday, Trump is expected to get his first official national security briefing, a move that is done to ensure that whoever is chosen as the new president is informed when they take office in January.
Trump’s often spontaneous speaking style has raised some concerns that he could end up divulging information from the briefings.
“If they want to be president, they’ve got to start acting like a president,” President Barack Obama said last week. “And that means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around.”
Wooing black voters
Trump’s speech Tuesday included appeals to African-Americans, a demographic of voters that has largely supported Democrats in recent elections including overwhelmingly voting for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Trump said Clinton talks down to minorities and that the Democratic Party as a whole has taken black voters for granted. He blamed Democratic policies for creating “more crimes, more broken homes and more poverty.”
But Trump faces a big challenge in actually getting those votes. Polls from this month show his support among registered African-American voters is in the single digits. A Los Angeles Times poll had Clinton beating him among black voters by a margin of 89 percent to 5 percent.
Clinton, at her own event Tuesday in Philadelphia, said Trump’s foreign policy statements send the wrong message to both allies and enemies.
“It just absolutely bewilders me when I hear Donald Trump try to talk about national security,” she said. “What he says often hurts us.”
She also cautioned her supporters not to assume she is going to win.
“Don’t be complacent my friends because even though, we’re doing fine right now, I’m not taking anybody, anywhere for granted.”
Her campaign will continue to deal with questions about her use of a private email server when she served as secretary of state. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday it delivered to Congress documents related to its probe into the matter.
FBI Director James Comey said last month investigators determined Clinton’s actions were “extremely careless” but that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. He said there would be no charges against her, a decision sharply criticized by many Republican lawmakers.