WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump demoted his long-time campaign manager on Wednesday, a move aimed at shoring up his re-election bid as he trails Democratic candidate Joe Biden in opinion polls less than four months before the Nov 3 presidential election.
In a Facebook post, Mr Trump said campaign manager Brad Parscale would be replaced by Mr Bill Stepien, who has been the deputy campaign manager.
Mr Parscale will shift to a role focused on digital and data strategy, the President said.
A campaign leadership shake-up had long been rumoured.
Mr Parscale was blamed internally for a botched rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month that drew a much smaller crowd than he predicted.
The coronavirus outbreak had also forced Mr Parscale and other campaign officials who attended the rally to self-quarantine for two weeks.
A source close to the campaign said Mr Trump has been anxious about the polls "and struck at the most visible target he could", adding that Mr Parscale has been "a straight-shooter about the President's challenges".
Mr Stepien, a long-time Republican strategist, is well known to both Mr Trump and his son-in-law, Mr Jared Kushner, who has been playing a more active role in the campaign. Mr Stepien was political director at the White House before moving to the campaign.
In his statement, Mr Trump credited both Mr Parscale and Mr Stepien for their involvement in his 2016 presidential election victory and predicted that he would glide to a second term in office.
"This one should be a lot easier as our poll numbers are rising fast, the economy is getting better, vaccines and therapeutics will soon be on the way, and Americans want safe streets and communities," Mr Trump wrote.
The Republican leader has publicly scoffed at the numerous opinion polls showing him behind Mr Biden.
Mr Trump trailed Mr Biden by 10 percentage points among registered voters in the latest Reuters/ Ipsos poll.
The President's standing among voters has sagged this year as the coronavirus has killed over 140,000 Americans and thrown millions more out of work.
Mr Biden has blamed Mr Trump for not taking more dramatic steps to curtail the pandemic's spread.
Republicans are struggling to recalibrate as restrictions on large, in-person events have mostly sidelined Mr Trump's signature campaign rallies.
Plans for his nominating convention in Jacksonville, Florida, remain up in the air with little more than a month before it is scheduled to begin.
Republican officials are planning to move most activities there outdoors.
Democrats are also paring back their in-person event significantly.
Mr Trump's advisers have privately levelled criticism that the re-election campaign lacks a central message.
But they said Mr Trump shared the blame because he lacked discipline on how to communicate what he would do with another four-year term in the White House.