Trump team, RNC to meet at pivotal moment – Politico
Donald Trump’s campaign and top Republican Party officials plan what one person called a “come to Jesus” meeting on Friday in Orlando to discuss the Republican nominee’s struggling campaign, according to multiple sources familiar with the scheduled sit-down.
Though a campaign source dismissed it as a “typical” gathering, others described it as a more serious meeting, with one calling it an “emergency meeting.” It comes at a time of mounting tension between the campaign and the Republican National Committee, which is facing pressure to pull the plug on Trump’s campaign and redirect party funds down ballot to protect congressional majorities endangered by Trump’s candidacy.
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The request for the Orlando Ritz Carlton meeting originated with Trump’s campaign, according to a source familiar with the broad details, and is being viewed by RNC officials as a sign that the campaign has come to grips with the difficulty it is having in maintaining a message and running a ground game.
“They want to patch up a rift that just keeps unfolding,” one source said. “They finally realize they need the RNC for their campaign because, let’s face it, there is no campaign.”
Another person familiar with the meeting, a Republican operative who works with the campaign, said the planned gathering was “a come-to-Jesus meeting.” That source said that many Trump campaign staffers share the party officials’ frustrations with Trump’s penchant for self-sabotaging rhetoric. “What’s bothering people on the campaign is that they feel like they’re doing all the right things, but they’re losing every news cycle to Hillary and there’s nothing they can do about it.”
The campaign official said Trump, who is scheduled to travel to Pennsylvania on Friday, was not slated to attend the meeting, but that Karen Giorno, a senior adviser to the campaign, was.
“This is a typical meeting” Giorno said. “There’s no consternation. These are meetings we’re having in the battleground states to get it all going. We keep seeing these reports that there’s a rift between Reince [Priebus] and the boss and it’s just false.”
Since Trump clinched the nomination, his campaign has come to rely heavily on the RNC for basic political infrastructure that he largely eschewed during a primary campaign in which he relied heavily on the power of social media and free publicity.
But party officials have grumbled that Trump has ignored their advice on how to professionalize his campaign, while trying to seize too much control of the party’s fundraising apparatus.
And some officials on Trump’s campaign have privately questioning the party’s commitment to its nominee – concerns that were inflamed Thursday when POLITICO revealed that more than 70 Republicans had signed an open letter to Priebus urging him to stop spending any money to help Trump, and to instead shift cash to saving the party’s congressional majorities.
Trump on Thursday night challenged reports that the RNC might shift resources down ballot, warning in an interview on Fox News “if it is true, that’s okay too because all I have to do is stop funding the Republican Party.”
Trump argued that the RNC needs him more than the he needs the committee, asserting: “I’m the one raising that’s funding, I’m the one that’s raising the money and other people are getting to use the money that I raised.”
An RNC member said discontent with the Trump campaign has hit new heights in recent days, describing “major tumult in the building and staff problems and disagreements and RNC staff on the edge of mutiny.”
That’s particularly evident in must-win Florida, the nation’s biggest battleground state, where Trump’s campaign has only one field office and no visible footprint otherwise. It plans to open 25 offices by early September, but rank-and-file Republican Party members and candidates are worried that Hillary Clinton’s team is building a robust campaign across the state.
Republicans started growing more-jittery this week as a Quinnipiac University poll indicated Trump was losing his advantage in Florida over Hillary Clinton and might be dragging down Sen. Marco Rubio’s reelection efforts.
And Florida GOP veterans say Trump is well behind previous GOP presidential campaigns when it comes to building infrastructure in the state.
“In Florida, usually by this time, we’d have 10 field offices set up, but right now, there is only one,” said Al Cardenas, a former chairman of the state’s Republican Party.
So far, cooperation between the campaign and the committee has been strained.
Trump has publicly praised RNC chairman Reince Priebus – calling him “Mr. Switzerland” for maintaining neutrality in the nominating process – but his campaign and the RNC have had an awkward relationship from the start of his run last summer, when Priebus reportedly called Trump and asked him to “tone down” his rhetoric about undocumented Mexican immigrants. In February, Trump accused the committee of “illegally” making money off of him after it sent out an email fundraising appeal that used his name.
The RNC was not immediately available to comment.
The meeting comes just as Trump made a rare public acknowledgement in Orlando that his campaign is on the ropes.
“We’re having a problem,” Trump told a group of ministers in Orlando in Thursday, according to the Associated Press. Trump pointed out that the troubles and his potential loss “could cost us the Supreme Court.”