Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s newly installed campaign chief executive, met over the weekend with Patrick Caddell, the longtime Democratic pollster who rose to fame as an adviser to President Jimmy Carter.
The meeting, which took place Saturday night at a hotel bar in New York, is the latest example of how Bannon is building his own kitchen cabinet as he crafts Trump’s strategy for the coming weeks.
But instead of including only Trump campaign officials and mainstream Republican consultants, Bannon is looking to Caddell, a fiery populist, among other people he knows from his time running Breitbart News, the hard-charging conservative website.
Two people familiar with Bannon’s outreach spoke with The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Bannon, who has kept an especially low profile since assuming control of the Trump campaign, was unavailable for comment.
When reached by phone Monday afternoon, Caddell declined to discuss Saturday’s meeting.
“Steve Bannon is a good friend and we often talk,” Caddell said.
Caddell’s huddle with Bannon came hours before Trump met Sunday with his top aides at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., for meetings and debate preparation.
Bannon and Caddell have been speaking regularly since Bannon joined the campaign this month, the people said. Most often their conversations have revolved around what Trump could do in the coming weeks to expand his appeal, in particular with Democrats and independents.
Bannon sees Caddell, 66, as a seasoned hand and fellow anti-establishment agitator and has mulled bringing him onto the campaign, the people said. But since Caddell is busy with his own projects and television commentary, their exchanges so far have been informal.
Meanwhile, Breitbart has been prominently featuring Caddell’s political analysis.
“If this moves to any kind of referendum issue, which is where the country is — how it’s going, what the future looks like, and really what has been the uprising this year of the American people against the political class, across the board — the election becomes a whole different dynamic,” Caddell said Monday on Breitbart News Daily, a Sirius XM radio program, calling it a “tight race.”
Beyond Carter, whom he guided during the 1976 campaign and in the White House, Caddell has worked in senior roles for the Democratic presidential campaigns of George McGovern, Gary Hart and Joe Biden.
Caddell’s ties to the Democratic Party have frayed in recent decades as he has become a well-known face on Fox News and more closely associated with independent candidates.