President Trump is shaking up his re-election team with less than four months until November’s vote, replacing his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, in an acknowledgment of the president’s diminished standing in nearly all public and private polling since the spring.
Mr. Parscale, who was named campaign manager unusually early, in February 2018, will step out of the job and Bill Stepien, currently the deputy campaign manager and a veteran political operative, will take over. Mr. Parscale will stay on with the campaign, becoming a senior adviser for data and digital operations.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, confirmed the moves Wednesday night, saying: “Brad and Bill were both unsung heroes of the 2016 campaign and have done a great job building the infrastructure for the president’s campaign for the 2020 race. Together they both bring unique strengths.”
The move comes as Mr. Trump’s advantages as an incumbent president have eroded in the face of a pandemic that has killed over 137,000 Americans and battered the nation’s economy — once Mr. Trump’s most powerful argument for re-election. The president has been heavily criticized for his handling of the coronavirus, and the halting federal response has deepened the hole in which he finds himself in national and battleground state polling.
Mr. Trump is often described as his own campaign manager, and his political operation, which is overseen by Mr. Kushner, has been tailored to his desires.
Among the pieces that Mr. Parscale set up was the digital fund-raising apparatus, which gave the president a cushion over the last few months, when in-person, high-dollar events were impossible to hold because of the virus.
For over a year, Mr. Parscale has been the focus of intense scrutiny and news coverage about his operation and whether he was making an outsize amount of money from the campaign. Those articles have included attention on his purchases of property and cars in Florida, where he lives, becoming a source of frequent attention that the president saw as a distraction.
Mr. Parscale, who was handpicked by Mr. Kushner and who is close to the Trump family, lasted longer in the job than most of the people who led various iterations of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. And campaign aides emphasized that Mr. Parscale is being asked to stay on, unlike others who have been let go from the Trump orbit.
But Mr. Parscale has no background in politics, and he suffered something of a mortal wound in the role three weeks ago when a much-hyped rally in Tulsa, Okla., to “reboot” Mr. Trump’s campaign was sparsely attended. After boasting of nearly one million ticket requests, just over 6,000 people attended the June 20 event, an embarrassment that Mr. Trump could not let go of.
The president at times berated Mr. Parscale over real and perceived transgressions, sometimes screaming at him and once threatening to sue him.