2020 Campaign Takes Surprise Twist

Nearly two years after boasting that his gut tells him “more sometimes than anybody else’s brain,” President Donald Trump is ditching his go-it-alone approach — hoping the instincts and experiences of seasoned Republican players can help reinvent his 2020 campaign before it’s too late.

In the months since a pandemic and protests complicated his bid for a second term, Trump and his two top campaign hands — White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and campaign manager Brad Parscale — have turned establishment figures into sounding boards, senators into policy directors and free market stalwarts into the drivers of his next economic response to Covid-19.

To rectify worrisome poll numbers, the trio has turned to veteran Republican strategist Karl Rove, who helped steer President George W. Bush to reelection in 2004 amid a soft economy, and others for help corralling party veterans who have soured on Trump. To please supply-side groups and the Republican-aligned Chamber of Commerce, the president has called for a payroll tax holiday to lift businesses hit by the pandemic. And in an attempt to boost his appeal with black voters, he and Kushner have pursued policy initiatives recommended by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the GOP’s only African American senator — including an executive order on police reform the White House unveiled Tuesday.

It’s a notable difference from Trump’s renegade approach in 2016, when his own raw inclinations drove most decisions related to campaign personnel and strategy. But it’s also reflective of the Trump campaign’s desire to adapt to the current moment — amid widespread unease about the economy and a nationwide focus on racial inequality — by broadening whom they engage with and using their professionalized apparatus to rapidly implement new ideas and strategies.

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