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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

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.