Even as he blasts the Republican Party for “rigging” the election process, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is increasingly surrounding himself with party insiders.
Trump on Wednesday announced he’s hired veteran political strategist Rick Wiley – lately of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s failed presidential bid – as national political director in charge of heading up the campaign’s statewide field operations.
The addition comes as Trump’s campaign has stumbled after a loss in Wisconsin and has been outfoxed in securing delegates to the upcoming Republican National Convention, raising questions about his campaign operations. In a statement, Trump called Wiley a “seasoned political expert with a very successful career in winning elections.” He said Wiley’s “deep ties to political leaders and activists across the country will be a tremendous asset as we enter the final phase of securing the nomination.”
Wiley, a former national political director with the Republican National Committee said Trump had “energized millions of hardworking people across the country with his no-nonsense straight talk and will bring his record of success to tackle the real problems that face our nation.”
Trump’s campaign announced last week that veteran Republican operative Paul Manafort would be taking on an expanded role in the campaign amid the increasing likelihood of a contested Republican convention. It said it expected Trump would continue to expand what had been a small, closely held team.
Trump also met Wednesday at Trump Tower in New York with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, with whom he’s feuded for months. The meeting came as a result of conversations over the past three months with Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes about appearing on a FOX Broadcasting special with Kelly airing May 23, a network spokesperson said.
Kelly was to announce the results of the meeting on her show Wednesday night: “Kelly has acknowledged in recent interviews that Trump is a fascinating person to cover and has electrified the Republican base,” the spokesperson said.
The outreach comes as Trump has excoriated party leaders for what he claims is a “rigged” election process, losing all 34 Republican convention delegates to Sen. Ted Cruz in Colorado, which awarded its delegates through a series of party meetings this month in the state’s congressional districts and at a state party convention Saturday.
“It’s a phony deal,” Trump said Tuesday of Colorado at a rally in Rome, New York. “This was a dirty trick. These are dirty tricksters.”
Republicans – including RNC chairman Reince Priebus – have defended the selection process and accused Trump of whining after the fact.