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Trump campaign operation takes shape ahead of expected 2024 announcement

The former president envisions a smaller campaign akin to his 2016 effort rather than the better funded but losing 2020 bid

Former president Donald Trump attends a rally in Vandalia, Ohio, on the eve of the midterm election last week. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

A trio of longtime Republican operatives will lead Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign, which the former president is set to announce Tuesday evening in the ballroom of his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., according to five people familiar with the staffing decisions.

There are expected to be notable differences from his 2020 campaign, advisers say. His nascent presidential bid is not currently expected to have a traditional campaign manager, with multiple advisers in top roles, according to some of the people familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Trump is famous for firing campaign managers.

Compared with 2020, the 2024 bid is expected to have a smaller staff and budget, advisers say, as Trump has complained that his failed 2020 campaign had too many people and spent too much money. He often told people that he did not even know what some of the people on his last campaign did.

The new campaign is expected to be based in South Florida, advisers say, instead of having a Washington presence.

Trump has told others he wants to re-create the underdog vibe of the 2016 campaign. He faces a range of challenges, including multiple federal and state investigations, growing criticism from Republicans, and unpopularity in many of the early 2024 states.

Candidates endorsed by former president Donald Trump did not fare well in the midterms. Here’s what that could mean for his expected 2024 presidential campaign. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Trump is famous for overriding campaign advisers and pitting aides against each other, and some allies have already predicted drama and cinematic firings — before the campaign has even launched.

The top advisers include Chris LaCivita, a longtime Republican strategist who is directing a super PAC tied to Trump, and Susie Wiles, a Florida-based political consultant who helped Trump win the state in his previous two presidential bids and has led his political operation for the past 18 months.

LaCivita is expected to take the leading role, but practically speaking duties will likely be split between him and Wiles, a top campaign adviser said. The group of top advisers also includes Brian Jack, who served as a senior political aide in the White House and has advised Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) since 2021.

A spokesman did not respond to phone calls seeking comment. Taylor Budowich, Trump’s current spokesman, will move to leading an outside super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc.

Trump — who on Truth Social on Monday wrote that he hopes Tuesday will be “one of the most important days in the history of our country” — is building an operation full of familiar faces with whom the former president, long distrustful of Washington insiders, is comfortable.

The former president has told aides he is eager for this campaign to resemble his 2016 effort, the top campaign adviser said.

Wiles — the daughter of the late football player and television sportscaster Pat Summerall — helped lead Trump’s Florida team to victory in 2016 and 2020. She is a polite yet steely grandmother who has managed to command the respect of Trump’s fractious orbit and speaks frequently with Trump, having led his PAC for the past year. Trump has told others he trusts her political instincts after she helped him win Florida twice. She has deep ties in Florida politics, and an acrimonious relationship with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a potential Trump foe in 2024. She ran DeSantis’s campaign in 2018 for governor and has previously worked for Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida.

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LaCivita, a Virginia-based political consultant, helped lead the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth campaign against John F. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee. During the 2020 campaign, he ran Preserve America PAC — a group that spent over $100 million to support Trump and was funded almost entirely by entities linked to Sheldon Adelson, the late Las Vegas casino magnate.

More recently, in 2022, LaCivita worked on the successful reelection campaign for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and served as the senior strategist for the Trump-backed outside group, Make America Great Again Inc., which can raise unlimited sums of money.

Jack, a veteran of Trump’s 2016 campaign, went on to work in the White House political office for four years. He later joined McCarthy’s team, managing his national political operation where the two men worked to counsel Trump on his involvement in the 2022 midterm contests.

Jack is expected to take a senior role on the Trump campaign early next year, after finishing his work for McCarthy over the coming weeks.

Steven Cheung is also expected to join the campaign in a top communications role, according to three people familiar with the decision. Cheung worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign as director of rapid response and then joined his White House, staying for two years. He also previously worked as the communications director for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Kellyanne Conway, who managed Trump’s 2016 campaign, is expected to be involved in some capacity, two people familiar with the situation said. However, Conway, who has four teenage children and a Fox News contract, is unlikely to move to South Florida.

It is unclear who will be the public-facing spokesperson for the campaign; a decision has not been made, advisers said.

And Tony Fabrizio, who previously served as a top Trump campaign pollster, will this time handle polling for a pro-Trump super PAC, two people familiar with the decision said. Other pollsters who have worked for Trump, including the McLaughlin Group, may continue to play a role, a person familiar with the situation said.

Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, played a major role in his first two campaigns, both taking senior adviser roles in his White House. Now, however, the couple have no plans to get involved in the 2024 effort, a person familiar with the situation said.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump, however, retain close relationships with the former president, this person added; they golfed with him Friday, and spent the weekend with him at Mar-a-Lago for his daughter Tiffany Trump’s wedding, as well.

Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, is likely to play a role similar to the ones he played in his father’s previous bids — campaigning for him in states where he can be helpful and offering advice when asked — but will not take on the role previously occupied by Kushner, a person familiar said.

Boris Epshteyn — a pugilistic communications consultant who helped encourage Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen — is expected to be a senior adviser. Sergio Gor, a former aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a former Trump fundraiser, is also expected to take on an advisory role. And Gary Coby, a longtime Republican digital and Trump strategist, is expected to continue to do digital work for the campaign.

Trump has only started interviewing campaign staff in recent days. His advisers had hoped he would delay his announcement a bit longer so they could set up more of a robust campaign apparatus, people familiar with the situation said.

A number of his longest-serving advisers have said privately they aren’t sure whether they want to be on another Trump campaign; many have received subpoenas in recent months because of their ties to Trump and his orbit and have grown frustrated with his erratic behavior since losing the presidency.

Multiple Trump allies added that the former president has been in an extremely foul mood since last week’s elections, when Republicans performed far worse than expected, and some donors and fellow Republicans publicly blamed Trump for the poor showing.

Tuesday, however, could provide Trump with an opportunity to move past the midterms, and onto what he hopes will be a winning presidential effort.

Gary Maloney, a Republican consultant to more than a dozen presidential campaigns, praised the early contours of Trump’s 2024 team, calling them “the gold standard of GOP consulting.”

“The quality of the team is clear,” Maloney said. “Now, will Trump listen to them?”

Isaac Arnsdorf contributed to this report.

The 2022 Midterm Elections

Georgia runoff election: Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) won re-election in the Georgia Senate runoff, defeating Republican challenger Herschel Walker and giving Democrats a 51st seat in the Senate for the 118th Congress. Get live updates here and runoff results by county.

Divided government: Republicans narrowly won back control of the House, while Democrats will keep control of the Senate, creating a split Congress.

What the results mean for 2024: A Republican Party red wave seems to be a ripple after Republicans fell short in the Senate and narrowly won control in the House. Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign shortly after the midterms. Here are the top 10 2024 presidential candidates for the Republicans and Democrats.

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