Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Few voters care that Donald Trump dumped his campaign manager.
But the firing of Corey Lewandowski does qualify as the latest in a series of over-the-top sideshows in a campaign that delivers more than its share of over-the-top sideshows.
The dismissal is remarkable because the presumptive GOP nominee made such a big point of defending Lewandowski’s controversial actions in the past and refusing to fire him.
In March, the 42-year-old operative grabbed a female reporter by the arm to keep her away from the candidate. Lewandowski denied doing so — despite a video to the contrary. He also called her “delusional” before facing battery charges that were later dropped.
For any campaign, a public firing tends to symbolize behind-the-scenes chaos or suggest a lack of competence in the organization.
But deciding which subordinates will have his ear could be the least of this would-be president’s problems.
Those are problems a proverbial rearranging of deck chairs is unlikely to solve. They include:
- Trump’s less-than-stellar poll numbers, as widely reported.
- His growing collection of false or questionable statements — including an attempt to rewrite his comments after the Orlando massacre that others in the Pulse bar should have been armed.
- Statements of “support” from prominent party members that stop short of endorsement — and only serve to signal the anxiety and suspicion surrounding Trump inside his own party.
- A third-party challenge from Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who like his running mate, William Weld, is a former Republican governor, perhaps making him more of an alternative for GOP voters than for traditional Democratic voters. Perhaps.
- The question of money, as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton out-funds him. Trump is in the awkward position of needing to raise big bucks after repeatedly declaring “”I don’t need anybody’s money.” And how much he can or will spend of his own resources raises anew the mystery of how much he’s really worth.
- Skittish convention sponsors, with big companies signalling concerns about the candidate. Not only is Apple staying out of it, but Wells Fargo & Co., United Parcel Service Inc., Motorola Solutions Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Ford Motor Co., and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. all indicate that they will not participate as they did the 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla., according to Bloomberg News.
After Trump defied most expectations by winning the primaries, it becomes especially difficult for an outsider to predict his demise in the general election.
But that doesn’t mean his campaign is in good shape, by any stretch.