In his first Sunday show interview since taking on an expanded role in Donald Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort was quick to raise questions about the tactics Sen. Ted Cruz’ campaign is using to secure delegates.
After being asked whether threatening delegates is fair game in the hunt for the 1,237 required to secure the republican nomination, Manafort responded, “It’s not my style, and it’s not Donald Trump’s style. … But it is Ted Cruz’s style.” He then called the Cruz campaign’s methods “Gestapo tactics, scorched-earth tactics.”
Manafort did not back up his accusations with specific incidents but said, “We're going to be filing several protests because reality is, you know, they are not playing by the rules."
Later on Sunday, the Cruz campaign responded that Team Trump was trying to "distract from their failure" with Manafort's comments.
"It's no surprise that Trump's team will lash out with falsehoods when facing a loss to distract from their failure, as they have the entire time," said Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. "We have earned our success by working hard to build a superior organization and are working within the process and rules that have been established- which has led now to four consecutive wins, 12 wins total."
Manafort, who has advised Republican presidential campaigns going back to Pres. Gerald Ford, would not outline the rules he is playing by either. When pressed on whether paying for a delegate’s golf membership or trip to the convention was in the realm possibility he answered, “Well, there's the law, and then there's ethics, and then there's getting votes. I'm not going to get into what tactics are used.”
Trump's campaign has suffered in the last few weeks from not having a better handle on how each state's republican party goes about choosing delegates to send to the Republican National Convention. The latest misstep was being unable to secure any of the delegates that were up for grabs in Colorado. Trump's campaign came off as disorganized, with his backers passing out lists of their ideal delegates that were riddled with mistakes. Saturday evening, Cruz finished his sweep of the 34 delegates that were chosen either by congressional district or state conventions in Colorado. However, understanding and managing how the Trump campaign deals with delegates going forward is a big part of Manafort's job now.
Manafort’s larger portfolio under the title of “convention manager” has many wondering if he is the de facto campaign manager, leaving the guy who actually has that title – Corey Lewandowski – with a diminished role. Manafort tried to rise above the speculation saying that the person “running” the campaign is Donald Trump.
He continued, “Trump was doing very well on a model that made sense, but now, as the campaign has gotten to the end stages, a more traditional campaign has to take place. And Trump recognized that and is now reaching out not just with me, but with others as well that you'll start to see come in.”
A senior campaign official mimicked this sentiment to NBC News this week, expressing that the smaller-than-most campaign was growing as it entered a new phase of the election cycle.
Outlined in a press release announcing Manafort's new position, Lewandowski still oversees day-to-day operations of the campaign, whereas Manafort will helm the new DC office. This office is in charge of the delegate tracking and operations, as well as Washington outreach. Manafort will also work closely with Deputy Campaign Manager Michael Glassner.