It’s been a rough 24 hours for Donald Trump’s presidential run. Last night, the Trump campaign’s Federal Election Commission filings were made public, revealing, among other things, that Trump’s presidential effort has a paltry $1.3 million on hand and spent more on hats than online advertising in May. Luckily for the the real estate mogul, this late-breaking scrutiny of Trump’s campaign financing has all but memory-holed the apparent firing of his campaign manager a mere 12 hours earlier.
Although he’s made the cable news rounds, Corey Lewandowski hasn’t truly had a tell-all moment since his abrupt departure from the Trump campaign Monday morning. Despite rumblings that Trump’s famously abrasive now-former campaign boss was booted after behind-the-scenes threats from Trump daughter/coup leader Ivanka, Lewandowski has so far been a paragon of discipline and gratitude.
In interviews on both CNN and MSNBC, Lewandowski stressed that it was an honor and a privilege to help plot Trump’s domination of the Republican presidential primary, and that no, there’s nothing to those nagging reports of dissension within campaign ranks, and no, one certainly shouldn’t read too much into his reportedly being escorted out of Trump Tower by security guards. Lewandowski has an aversion to snitching that even Cam’ron could appreciate; nevertheless, he has dropped a couple interesting clues for the Trumpologically inclined.
The most newsworthy part of Lewandowski’s post-departure media tour had to do with the role of Trump’s son-in-law and New York Observer owner, Jared Kushner, in the campaign. Kushner, the husband of Ivanka Trump who converted to Judaism before marrying him in 2009, is reportedly one of Trump’s most important advisers and has had a hand in authoring his generally well-received AIPAC speech in April.
Apprently, Kushner has another job within the campaign: As Lewandowski told CNN’s Dana Bash, Kushner took a proactive role in shaping Trump’s online profile.
“He’s helped us at the onset at having a better online presence, being aggressive, in a good way, of getting us to have a stronger social media presence, making sure we’re posting our Facebook page,” Lewandoski said. He acknowledged that Kushner “understands a different component than I understand” and was “very good at moving the campaign forward” in terms of its web messaging. This is all very gracious and gentlemanly, especially since Bash noted during the interview that sources were telling her Kushner helped force Lewandoswki out when he learned the campaign manager was attempting to plant negative stories about him in the media.
It’s also another glimpse into what makes the Trump campaign so different from a more traditional political operation. A normal presidential run would have a designated social media strategist, someone who had a strategy for leveraging user and voter data in order to identify and reach potential supporters. Instead, the campaign seems to have handed this crucial task to a real estate CEO with a lot of other things going on his life—Kushner closed $2 billion in transactions in 2014 alone. This isn’t quite at the level of Trump sending New Jersey governor Chris Christie on McDonald’s runs but it’s also another example of high-profile surrogates and supporters filling roles that are typically reserved for professional campaign staff.
Lewandowski stopped short of saying that Kushner actually operates Trump’s Facebook page, although it’s the only specific area of responsibility that he mentioned in connection to Trump’s son-in-law. That particular webpage can be every bit as much of a messaging mishmash as the rest of Trump’s campaign. For example, the “about” video is a three-month-old message from Trump that makes a now-anachronistic reference to his having multiple primary opponents. Trump’s 8.3 million Facebook subscribers are also treated to classic Trumpian bombast, like a June 20 promise that Trump will be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
Still, the Facebook page is more disciplined than the campaign as a whole. Trump’s Facebook profile is lighter on media criticism and personal umbrage and much heavier on policy content than Trump’s Twitter feed and campaign speeches. On Facebook, a visitor can learn that Trump’s not a fan of soda taxes and has a plan to clean up the Department of Veterans Affairs’ finances. Although the authors of Trump’s Facebook page have had repeated struggles with the em-dash, diction and syntax are still far cleaner than on Trump’s twitter profile, the language of which has been downright dadaist at times.
If Kushner really is helping to run the Trump campaign’s Facebook page, it’s clear he has a vision of a better-groomed and more restrained version of his candidate father-in-law, one that doesn’t necessarily dull The Donald’s edges but that still reigns in the kind of excesses that could alienate voters during a general election. Trump has supposedly already listened to Kushner in dumping Lewandowski. Could the Republican candidate also start to look more like the AIPAC speech and Facebook-like version of himself, an imagine that Kushner has reportedly help promote?
Related: Trump Watch [Tablet series]