So it was Manafort who has had to step sideways and maybe down a few flights of stairs in the Trump Tower penthouse suite. The man who has more political experience than the rest of Trump’s team combined, has been struggling with an Eastern European albatross draped over his elegantly suited shoulders in the last few weeks. The Russia connection is all over the media, and questions about possible under-the-table payments totalling around $12 million have linked Manafort to Russia and Ukraine’s ousted President Yanucovych, a key Putin ally.

Throw in the DNC and DCC hacks which seem to come from Russian hackers and add in Wikileaks as a Putin agitprop media machine and you have Trump’s campaign beseiged by the type of conspiracy theories that Trump himself has been accused of fostering. Plus poll numbers are depressingly low as of late, and staying that way.

Something had to give. And that was Manafort, who now has to share duties with … Steve Bannon! And Kellyanne Conway, a GOP pollster who previously worked with pro-Cruz Super PAC Keep the Promise, and specializes in trying to bridge the gender gap that many GOP candidates face. Oh. And also, rumor has it that Roger Ailes is helping Trump prep for the upcoming debates, starting September 26.

Did Corey Lewandowski have a heads up on all this when he gleefully re-tweeted the NYT article on Manafort and the possible payments from associates linked with Putin? Regardless, Trump is going to double down on doubling down. He will do it His Way, or no way at all. Expect an even nastier campaign from here on forward than the already lurid expectations coming from most in the media.

The irony is that up in West Bend, Wisconsin Trump gave perhaps the best speech of his campaign by doing what many – like Manafort and others – have been pleading for him to do all along; being focused, disciplined and sticking to his law and order message. But bringing it down to the level of neighborhood safety and job security. While his appeal to black voters may not move the needle much at all at this point, he clearly made a case for why his positions on immigration, trade, and local policing are ones that should matter to large numbers of African American workers who have to deal with the negative consequences of illegal immigration, trade deals and insecurity in their neighborhoods on an almost daily basis.

But that speech may go unnoticed for at least a few days. Right now, everyone will be talking about Breitbart’s Steve Bannon and how his flamethrower approach will make Trump’s campaign even more controversial and theatrical than before. Anything is possible in Trump’s world. Even a well-focused political speech.

Comments