Washington – U.S. President Donald Trump ousted Brad Parscale as manager of his campaign, replacing him with Bill Stepien as the president seeks to reverse a decline in the polls with less than four months before the November election.
Stepien, who formerly served as White House political director, was deputy to Parscale, the campaign manager since 2018. The move comes as Trump faces a recession, nationwide protests over racism and police brutality and more than 130,000 deaths from an unabated coronavirus pandemic.
“I am pleased to announce that Bill Stepien has been promoted to the role of Trump campaign manager,” Trump said in a statement. “Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a senior adviser to the campaign.”
Stepien was at the White House this week for multiple meetings, including with senior staff, as well as planning discussions on the Republican convention, according to people familiar with the matter. Parscale was in White House meetings Wednesday.
”Stepien gives donors and operatives comfort that the campaign will run on all cylinders,” said Republican strategist Bryan Lanza, who served as deputy communications director for Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Trump is lagging Democratic nominee Joe Biden in national and battleground state polls.
A Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday was the first to show Trump losing his edge over Biden on stewardship of the economy, with 50 percent of voters saying they trust Biden to do a better job of running it. At the same time, polls show his approval rating as low as 36 percent.
Parscale’s demotion comes a few weeks after Trump held a rally in Tulsa that was sparsely attended. In the run-up to the rally, Parscale tweeted that 1 million people requested tickets to attend, a metric Trump later repeated in a Fox News interview.
Parscale had been under fire for months amid the sagging polls and complaints from Republicans that the campaign is paying him too much. The campaign and affiliated organizations have paid millions of dollars to ad-buying, data, and consulting firms owned by Parscale, according to public documents compiled by a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
In a Facebook post, Trump said he looked forward to working with both men toward his re-election. “This one should be a lot easier as our poll numbers are rising fast, the economy is getting better, vaccines and therapeutics will soon be on the way, and Americans want safe streets and communities!” he said.
Parscale, web director of the San Antonio, Texas-based firm Giles-Parscale, advertised Trump’s campaign on websites and on social media in 2016. His only previous political work had been for a tax-assessor candidate in San Antonio who lost.
In early June, Trump summoned Parscale and other top political advisers to the White House after polls showed declining support. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, participated in the meeting, as did Stepien and Trump’s top pollster, Tony Fabrizio.