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Donald Trump’s campaign scrambles to shape up

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign says it’s ramping up hiring in 16 states.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign says it’s ramping up hiring in 16 states.Mary Altaffer/Associated Press/File 2016

WASHINGTON — Republicans are sprinting to shape up Donald Trump’s presidential campaign before the party’s convention in three weeks, even as leading members of the party carry a deep antipathy or outright opposition to his claim to the GOP nomination.

Trump’s campaign chairman said Sunday that there’s a hiring spree in 16 states, and the campaign is working with the Republican National Committee to solidify other matters.

Paul Manafort said Trump is not all that involved in the race to organize an offensive against Democrat Hillary Clinton and catch up to her massive fund-raising advantage.

‘‘The good thing is we have a candidate who doesn’t need to figure out what’s going on [inside the campaign] in order to say what he wants to do,’’ Manafort said on NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press.’’ “We have our campaign plans in place. We have our budgets in place.’’


A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday showed Clinton has a double-digit lead nationally. Trump’s support has plunged as he has alienated fellow Republicans and large majorities of voters overall in the course of a month of self-inflicted controversies.

In a head-to-head general election matchup, Clinton leads Trump 51 percent to 39 percent among registered voters nationwide, the poll found.

Roughly two in three respondents say they think Trump is unqualified to lead the nation; are anxious about the idea of him as president; believe his comments about women, minorities and Muslims show an unfair bias; and see his attacks on a federal judge because of his Mexican-American heritage as racist, according to the poll.

Another poll, conducted for The Wall Street Journal and NBC News, also found Clinton leading Trump nationally, but only by five percentage points.

Also Sunday, Clinton released a national TV ad attacking Trump for his comments on the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. The ad, to begin airing this week, slams Trump for saying Friday that his golf courses in Scotland will benefit from the market turmoil.


What Manafort described as a ‘‘new phase’’ for the campaign — as it shifts to the general election — was a forced reshuffling of an effort that has been hobbled for weeks by infighting, Trump’s statements about the judge’s ethnicity, and a massive fund-raising deficit.

Trump began June with $1.3 million in the bank, less campaign cash than many congressional candidates. The $3 million he collected in May is about one-tenth what Clinton raised.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Trump can’t win the presidency unless he can compete with Clinton on the financial front. ‘‘He needs to catch up, and catch up fast,’’ the Kentucky Republican said on ABC’s ‘‘This Week.’’

On Sunday, Manafort sought to calm the angst, describing a partnership between Trump’s campaign operation and the Republican National Committee that goes beyond the RNC’s traditional role of raising money for the GOP nominee. He said the transition to the general election is complete — but the details have not necessarily been made public.

‘‘We are fully now integrated with the Republican National Committee,’’ Manafort said. He said this week the campaign will announce ‘‘people who are taking over in major positions in our national campaign, as well as in our state campaigns. We’re organized in all 16 states that we’re going to be targeting as battleground states.’’


McConnell and other Republicans said they got the first glimmers of reassurance this week when Trump fired former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in what Trump described as a change of direction from the GOP primaries to the general election. Lewandowski was at the center of the campaign’s most corrosive internal battles, which Trump allowed to fester for months.

Despite the stated support for Trump, antipathy toward him projected from the Sunday shows and beyond.

A few hundred delegates to the Republican National Convention are pushing to change the rules and make it possible for them to vote for someone other than Trump. Many congressional Republicans are skipping the gathering in Cleveland, the latest being Representative Mia Love, of Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are not attending. And 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, one of Trump’s most outspoken critics, has opted to spend July 10 through July 21 elsewhere.

Trump has said he doesn’t want support from them, but also groused that overall support from Republican leaders has been lacking.

On staffing, there’s evidence the Trump campaign is having trouble attracting some political veterans who are reluctant to sign on to such a late-starting and tumultuous campaign.

McConnell refused to say on Sunday whether Trump is qualified to be president. And he suggested the GOP platform would not reflect Trump’s ideas, including restrictions on Muslim immigration.

‘‘It’s my expectation that the platform will be a traditional Republican platform, not all that different from the one we had four years ago,’’ McConnell said.