The inner dynamics of the major parties could not be more different with national conventions just two months away.
So-called outsider Donald Trump is busy installing longtime GOP operatives in key positions. Once-defiant party players now bow sheepishly to his newly seized power.
So-called insider Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies still are trying to stamp out the embers of a surprisingly durable primary challenge from outsider Bernie Sanders.
For Trump, the Republican drama now has the feel of a hostile corporate takeover in which he, as the new CEO, is keeping or rehiring old hands for a semblance of business as usual.
Last week, he appointed Paul Manafort — a veteran of the Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole efforts — as chief strategist and campaign chair. Arthur Culvahouse, a Washington lawyer, will oversee the vetting process for a running mate, as he did for Sen. John McCain, who picked Sarah Palin.
Veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins, who publicly referred to Trump two months ago as a narcissist who loses his cool when attacked, now is serving with the pro-Trump Great America PAC. Trump, who sneers at polling, hired pollster Tony Fabrizio, who worked for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Rand Paul.
Clinton relies on familiar party veterans, too, but in large part those she has known for many years rather than freshly captured combatants. Her challenge is to add support from Sanders fans — a tricky maneuver.
During the raucous Nevada Democratic convention that drew hand-wringing from the front-runner’s camp, her supporter Sen. Barbara Boxer was booed while trying to give a speech. Boxer played up some threats and said she had a “warm” conversation with Sanders afterward.
“When he says he does not support any type of violence, I believe him. And he’s got to make sure it doesn’t happen. People will follow his lead,” Boxer told CNN — part of a clear push to put Sanders supporters on the defensive.
The contrast in the parties’ current status reflects the starkly different personas of their standard-bearers in waiting.
On one side, Trump has made something of an “Apprentice”-style hiring game out of the vice presidency and the Supreme Court’s open seat, by releasing early what he says are prospective names and discussing who has what chance.
On the other side, Clinton creates none of that speculation because she’s keeping her potential choices private — standard practice at this stage.
Trump, who boasted that he was self-funded, is now fundraising through party regulars. Clinton, who’s had to fend off criticism tied to her bigger donors, keeps collecting.
Clinton and Trump do share one thing: Each calls the other unqualified.
Perhaps that strategy helps rally some of their party faithful well ahead of their nominations.