Friday 30 September 2016

'He would stab supporters in the back to earn a cent'

David Lawler and Steve Peoples

Published 30/03/2016 | 02:30

Donald Trump's wife, Melania, pictured at a debate in the University of Miami (Reuters)
Donald Trump's wife, Melania, pictured at a debate in the University of Miami (Reuters)

The former communications director of a pro-Donald Trump group has disavowed him, saying the Republican front-runner had entered the race to attract publicity rather than gain the presidency and is now headed for disaster.

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Stephanie Cegielski was not an employee of the official Trump campaign, but was hired last year for a senior role with the Make America Great Again Super Pac, which was formed to raise money in support of Mr Trump before folding in October.

She says she was informed Mr Trump hoped to launch a protest campaign that would gain at least 10pc in the polls and finish as high as second place.

According to Ms Cegielski, there was never a plan in place for victory.

"I don't think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don't even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all," she writes in an open letter.

"He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver's seat, and nothing else matters," she adds.

Ms Cegielski writes that she believes she helped "create this monster", and is now dedicating herself to stopping him.

"He would stab any one of his supporters in the back if it earned him a cent more in his pocket," she claims.

Although he is still his Party's undisputed front-runner, Trump's White House aspirations could yet depend on a messy fight for delegates he is only now scrambling to address.

Acknowledging a late start in the nuts-and-bolts business of political wrangling, Mr Trump's campaign yesterday announced plans to open a Washington DC office to run its delegate operation and congressional relations team, said campaign senior adviser Barry Bennett.

Mr Trump has also hired a veteran political operative to serve as the campaign's convention manager. Paul Manafort, a seasoned Washington hand, will oversee the campaign's "entire convention presence" including a potential contested convention, said Bennett.

The day before, Mr Trump's team vowed to pursue legal action against the Republican National Committee to protect his recent victory in Louisiana, one of many states that features complicated rules allowing campaigns to influence the presidential nominating process weeks or months after their votes have been counted.

A similar process plays out nationwide every four years. Yet Trump's outsider candidacy is so far driven largely by media coverage instead of the on-the-ground organisation that rival Ted Cruz boasts.

Now, Trump must play catch up - especially in the chase for delegates previously bound to former candidate Marco Rubio.

Yesterday's moves mark a major escalation in Trump's willingness to play by party rules and build alliances in a political system he has so far shunned. In states like Louisiana, Iowa, Nevada and many others, delegates are selected at state and congressional district conventions and caucuses.

"Honestly, I'm new to the operation. It's obviously not perfect," said Trump aide Ed Brookover, who, like Bennett, is among several former Ben Carson aides tapped in recent weeks to undertake Trump's delegate outreach.

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump, with 739 delegates, is the only candidate with a realistic path to clinching the nomination by the end of the primaries on June 7.

Irish Independent

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