NEW YORK — Donald Trump is shaking up his campaign's leadership amid flagging poll numbers, NBC News has learned.
Kellyanne Conway — already a senior adviser to the campaign — told NBC News she has been promoted to the role of campaign manager. She confirmed that Paul Manafort will stay on as campaign chair but said Stephen Bannon, the co-founder of conservative Breitbart News, will come on board as campaign CEO.
The moves were first reported by The Wall Street Journal early Wednesday and mark yet another round of internal shakeups for a campaign struggling to find consistent footing just 82 days ahead of the election.
They also represent what is widely seen as a demotion for Manafort, who has come under scrutiny for his ties to ousted Ukrainian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich.
Manafort himself was brought in after the Trump campaign parted ways with controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski just two months ago.
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He had been unofficially filling the role of campaign manager since Lewandowski's departure.
The expectation around Manafort's installation was for a more traditional campaign in terms of structure, strategy and messaging. The reality, however, has been a candidate unwilling to change the bombastic rhetoric and say-anything style that carried him through the Republican primaries.
Now Trump has been trailing in polls to rival Hillary Clinton, with some Republicans publicly pressuring the Republican National Committee to abandon Trump’s bid and instead focus on down ballot races.
The latest NBC News/SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll showed Clinton leading Trump by 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent.
Conway and Bannon lend a mixture of GOP star power and street credibility to an operation dogged by questions about how deep its campaign experience runs. The pair's expertise will also come into play as the campaign begins releasing its first major television ads of the general election later this week.
Conway is a veteran GOP pollster and strategist who spent the earlier half of the election cycle working for a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC.
Bannon, meanwhile, is a well-known conservative media personality — and one that the Trump campaign is exploiting for his experience.
"Mr. Bannon, once recognized by Bloomberg Politics as the 'most dangerous political operative in America,' will oversee the campaign staff and operations," the campaign said in a press release.
A reporter for Bannon's pro-Trump Breitbart News accused Lewandowski of assault — allegations that led several journalists to leave the organization over its handling of the incident.
“I want to win,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal of the moves. “That’s why I’m bringing on fantastic people who know how to win and love to win.”
The shake-up, though, threatens to overshadow Trump's attempt drive home his policy messages.
The GOP candidate delivered a national security speech Monday and an address about law and order Tuesday night.
But instead of waking up to reaction to that speech, questions over the campaign's internal re-calibration was expected to dominate the political discussion on Wednesday, when Trump is also expected to receive his first classified intelligence briefing.
Such briefings have been afforded to presidential candidates in the general election since the 1950s.