Donald Trump is reaching out to long-term Republican establishment figures to help manage his campaign.
The fresh involvement of veteran operatives reportedly is fueling tensions inside the Trump operation.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told FoxNews.com on Thursday “there is no truth” to recent stories suggesting “disarray” in the Trump ranks. But at the very least, the makeup of the campaign is changing.
Fox News learned Thursday that the Trump campaign will add some “seasoned operatives” to beef up the team for the big state contests ahead.
And Paul Manafort, best known for managing President Gerald Ford’s successful floor game at the 1976 contested Republican Convention, was put in charge of the Trump campaign’s Washington, D.C., office, sources close to the campaign told Fox News on Thursday.
A campaign statement later said Manafort would be working closely with other top campaign members in his new role.
“The nomination process has reached a point that requires someone familiar with the complexities involved in the final stages,” Trump said in a statement. “I am organizing these responsibilities under someone who has done this job successfully in many campaigns. This will allow the rest of my team to deal with the increasing needs of a national campaign for both the pre-Convention phase and most importantly, the general election.”
Manafort will be working with other top advisers on the delegate process and D.C. outreach. This, as the Trump campaign plans to hold meetings starting next week with lawmakers who back the billionaire businessman.
Manafort’s addition to the Trump staff is seen as crucial by many observers. While Trump holds large delegate leads over rivals Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Cruz has been cannily working in several states to elect delegates to the convention who support the Texas senator and has been wooing unbound delegates who may vote for whichever candidate they choose.
“Manafort has really kind of taken over, and started reorganizing the campaign,” a GOP source told CNN.
For the near term, Trump appears to be back on favorable turf in the Republican race after losing Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary to Cruz. He’s now campaigning in New York ahead of the state’s April 19 primary, and is leading the field by double-digits.