President Trump. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Wednesday that Bill Stepien will take over as his new 2020 campaign manager.

Why it matters: The elevation of Stepien is a demotion for Brad Parscale, Trump's existing campaign manager. Parscale was hand-picked by Jared Kushner, the president's adviser and son-in-law. He had been in the role longer than any of Trump's previous campaign managers.

  • The shake-up comes as Trump's status as the incumbent weakens in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times writes.

Our thought bubble, via Axios's Margaret Talev: This has been foreshadowed for weeks and moves like elevating Stepien and bringing back Jason Miller, a top campaign spokesman and 2016 adviser, kicked off the transition. It’s an important reflection of Trump acknowledging how vulnerable his re-election bid looks — and his desire to find someone other than himself at fault.

Between the lines per Axios' Jonathan Swan: Parscale was undercut by Kushner and Trump’s loss of confidence after Tulsa. Functionally it means very little given that Stepien and Miller have already been playing bigger roles.

  • The minute you don’t have control of strategy, messaging or key hires you are campaign manager in name only. But they know they can’t fire Parscale, who knows too much and built the digital infrastructure the campaign relies on.

The state of play: Kushner is essentially still running Trump's re-election campaign from the White House.

  • The president was infuriated following low-turnout at his much anticipated Tulsa rally, his first since the coronavirus pandemic hit. It prompted Kushner to make changes then, including moving Michael Glassner, who was in charge of campaign rallies, to a new role. 

What Trump's saying: "Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor to the campaign."

Background:

  • Parscale was a Trump favorite after serving as digital director in 2016 and bringing the campaign to new heights on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
  • Stepien previously served as Trump's deputy campaign manager.

Flashback: Trump fired his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort in 2016 and still won the election.

Go deeper... Poll: 62% say Trump is hurting efforts to slow spread of coronavirus

Go deeper

Trump campaign goes all in on Pennsylvania

Trump poster in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The president's campaign is placing more importance on Pennsylvania amid growing concern that his chances of clinching Wisconsin are slipping, Trump campaign sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, twice Wisconsin's number, actually has been trending higher in recent public and internal polling, a welcome development for the campaign.

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Why Puerto Rico is still struggling to get online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Internet connectivity remains a weak link for the disaster-wracked U.S. territory Puerto Rico, and some experts fear a new tranche of Federal Communications Commission subsidies set aside just for the island might not help the people most in need of a broadband connection.

Why it matters: Puerto Rico is locked out of most federal funding available to U.S. states to help expand internet service. The island risks being left behind as carriers expand and upgrade high-speed internet networks elsewhere, even as infrastructure-damaging tropical storms come faster and harder and the pandemic makes broadband even more of a must-have.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 a.m. ET: 31,343,430 — Total deaths: 965,250— Total recoveries: 21,516,481Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,858,010 — Total deaths: 199,886 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

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