Paul Manafort may be one of the newest senior members of the campaign behind Donald Trump's bid for the White House, but during an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Manafort demonstrated just how well he's adapting to the Trump campaign's most unusual culture.
When asked whether longtime Trump confidant and adviser Roger Stone crossed the line this week when he suggested that he or others would make public the hotel room numbers of delegates, Manafort told NBC host Chuck Todd that such an approach to delegate wrangling is not his "style," nor that of Trump. But, Manafort said, "Gestapo tactics" are part of the way that rival Ted Cruz's campaign is going about its work.
Here's a critical portion of the exchange between Todd and Manafort from the show's transcript:
TODD: What is fair game to win a delegate?
Is threatening a fair game?
Is threats a fair game?
MANAFORT: It's not my style. It's not Donald Trump's style.
TODD: What is -- ?
MANAFORT: But it is Ted Cruz's style. And that's going to wear thin very fast.
TODD: You think he's threatening delegates?
MANAFORT: Well, he's threatening — there — you go to his county conventions and you see the Gestapo tactics, the scorched-earth tactics —
TODD: Gestapo tactics? That's a strong word.
MANAFORT: Well, you look at — we're going to be filing several protests because the reality is, they are not playing by the rules. But, frankly, that's the side game because the only game I'm focusing on right now is getting delegates.
And the games that have happened, even this past weekend, you know, are not important to the long-term game of how do we get to 1,237 [delegates needed to claim the GOP presidential nomination].
It was rather a Trump-like moment: If they hit us, we are going to hit them back, harder.
Manafort joined the Trump team in recent weeks as the once constantly ascendant campaign seemed to falter amid Trump's public comments on abortion and the legal troubles that campaign manager Corey Lewandowski faces in connection with allegations that he manhandled a reporter. Lewandowski also has been captured on tape grabbing a protester by the collar at a Trump rally.
Manafort has worked in the past to advance the presidential campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush at GOP conventions.