jueves, 30 de junio de 2016

Trump's Pennsylvania campaign is missing in action

In a swing state that's central to his fortunes, local GOP leaders say there's almost no sign of Donald Trump's operation.


Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally June 11 at a private hanger at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. | AP Photo

Nearly everyone can agree that Donald Trump’s path to the White House goes through Pennsylvania.

But local party leaders in some of the state’s most pivotal counties say there’s been almost no outreach from his campaign so far, and there’s scant evidence of any Trump-driven ground organization. What infrastructure is in place lags behind the Democratic coordinated campaign on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

“The good news is, the level of enthusiasm for Mr. Trump in this county is the strongest I’ve ever seen for anyone,” said Michael Korns, Republican chairman of Westmoreland County, the second biggest in western Pennsylvania and the site of a Trump speech on Tuesday. “The bad news is, the resources at our disposal are by far the worst I’ve ever seen in any campaign, at least in any presidential campaign.”

“The Trump campaign has not specifically reached out to me,” said Bill Urbanski, the GOP chair of Wilkes Barre’s Luzerne County, a populous county in northeastern Pennsylvania where, according to a recent Republican poll, Trump led by 17 points.

Trump will need a heavy turnout in counties places like Luzerne and Westmoreland to offset Clinton’s advantages in the two big-city Democratic strongholds on either end of the state, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

So far, though, local officials report little interaction with the Trump campaign.

“I’ve not had much contact directly from the campaign,” said David Show, Republican Party chairman of Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania. Fayette gave Trump 70 percent of the vote in the primary. “State party-wise, they’re starting to get more active, but as far as direct contact with the Trump campaign, no. I haven’t heard much.”

“The state committee, the state party has people on the ground,” said Bill Donnelly, the chairman of the Montgomery County GOP in suburban Philadelphia. “The Trump people themselves I haven’t heard from.”

When there is outreach, Korns said, it’s not always from credible or official sources.

“There are a number of individuals, with varying levels of authority, some self-appointed, some not, that sort of float around on that campaign, so it’s definitely been a bit of a learning curve on our end,” Korns said.

Trump’s strategy differs from past nominees in that it cedes organizational control and direction to the Republican National Committee and the state party. And several GOP county leaders stressed that the state Republican Party is in contact with Trump’s operation — Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, has been in touch with the GOP state chair, as has Jim Murphy, the campaign’s new political director.

Local officials noted that the state and local parties were working hard on the GOP nominee’s behalf, in coordination with the Republican National Committee, which has 54 paid staffers in Pennsylvania and “hundreds of trained organizers and volunteers,” according to a spokeswoman.

“No other campaign, committee, or organization has been doing this for as long as we have,” said RNC spokeswoman Lindsay Walters, adding that the RNC has had a presence in Pennsylvania since 2013. “We are the infrastructure for the entire GOP ticket. And the Trump campaign has embraced that.”

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