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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.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases — Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Leon Black says he "made a terrible mistake" doing business with Jeffrey Epstein

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis/Getty Images

Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black on Thursday said during an earnings call that he made a "terrible mistake" by employing Jeffrey Epstein to work on personal financial and philanthropic services.

Why it matters: Apollo is one of the world's largest private equity firms, and already has lost at least one major client over Black's involvement with Epstein.