Down in the polls with less than three months to go until Election Day, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is undergoing another major staff shake-up and is planning to launch his first major general election television ad buy later this week.
Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon has been appointed CEO of the campaign and adviser Kellyanne Conway has been promoted to campaign manager, Mr. Trump announced Wednesday.
“I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years. They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win,” Mr. Trump said.
Paul Manafort will continue to be the chairman and chief strategist for the campaign.
Mr. Bannon, who is temporarily stepping down from his role with Breitbart to work on the campaign, will oversee campaign staff and operations, and Ms. Conway will work on messaging, according to the campaign.
“I believe we’re adding some of the best talents in politics, with the experience and expertise needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November and continue to share my message and vision to Make America Great Again,” Mr. Trump said.
“I am committed to doing whatever it takes to win this election, and ultimately become president because our country cannot afford four more years of the failed Obama-Clinton policies, which have endangered our financial and physical security,” he said.
In June, Mr. Trump fired Corey Lewandowski as his campaign manager amid reports of campaign infighting, though the candidate always publicly downplayed such reports. After that, Mr. Manafort had taken the reins of the campaign.
The campaign also said Wednesday the first major TV ad buy of the general election campaign is slated to start later this week and that “additional top-flight operatives” are “joining the movement on a near-daily basis.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the ads are slated to start airing Friday in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
“I feel great about our position right now. I haven’t spent 10 cents,” Mr. Trump said in an interview that aired Wednesday on “Fox and Friends.” “We’ve got a lot of money in the bank, and I haven’t spent any of it.”
“She [has] spent way over a hundred million dollars in negative ads on me and I’m fairly close, so I think we’re going to do very well, and we’re going to actually start doing ads over the next few days,” he said. “I think we have some pretty good ads.”
According to an analysis from NBC News Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, and her allies have combined to spend $104 million in general election ads, while the Trump campaign has spent nothing and pro-Trump outside groups have spent $12.4 million.
Mr. Lewandowski said Wednesday the staffing shake-up demonstrates that Mr. Trump wants to win.
“I think what you have is you’ve got a candidate who wants to win. This is a clear indication of that,” Mr. Lewandowski said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“If you look at Stephen Bannon and what they’ve built at Breitbart, it’s win at all costs,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “And I think that really makes some people on the left very afraid, because they’re willing to say and do things that others in the mainstream media wouldn’t do.”
“What they’re willing to say and do, I think right now, is the type of mindset that the campaign wants to prove to the Clinton people that they are going to take this fight directly to her,” he said.
Mr. Lewandowski had faced a misdemeanor charge of simple battery, which prosecutors later declined to pursue, stemming from a Florida campaign event in March where he allegedly manhandled Michelle Fields, who was a Breitbart reporter at the time. Ms. Fields later resigned and now works for the Huffington Post.
Mrs. Clinton is leading Mr. Trump head-to-head by about 5 points in Florida, 3 points in Ohio, 2 points in North Carolina, and 9 points in Pennsylvania, according to the latest Real Clear Politics averages.
Priorities USA Action, the main pro-Clinton super PAC, announced this week it was dialing back its activity in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Virginia as recent polling has shown Mrs. Clinton’s leads in those states at or near double digits.
Mr. Trump is also scheduled to receive his first classified intelligence briefing on Wednesday. He’s scheduled to campaign in North Carolina on Thursday and in Michigan on Friday.