The man who led Donald J. Trump‘s campaign through the 2016 primaries and continues to advise the president told the “Trump Tuesday” X Space, hosted Nov. 28 by Mark Naughton, that as soon as Trump has the delegates he needs to win the nomination, he must seize control of the Republican National Committee.
“We have an opportunity when Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, meaning he’s secured enough delegates to be the nominee of the convention floor, for the team to go in and take over the RNC,” said Corey Lewandowski, who in the 2023 off-cycle ran Jeff Landry’s successful campaign for governor of Louisiana.
“I think that’s where things are going to go,” he said.
“I have already explained to the leadership team and the president: ‘Listen, the second you are the presumptive nominee, you need to go in and take over the victory component of the RNC because that is the entity that collects the vast sums of money.’”
The consultant said he would close out Ronna McDaniel’s tenure as the RNC’s chairwoman.
“I have never been a big Ronna supporter,” he said.
“I didn’t think she should have been reelected as the chairwoman after the last election cycle. I know a number of people have now come out and agreed with that,” he said.
Lewandowski said he expects it to be evident that Trump will be the eventual nominee after winning the caucuses in Iowa and Nevada and the primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina—and then go on to dominate Super Tuesday. “That is what the media’s expectation is. I think that’s actually going to happen.”
The Republican Party hosts its 2024 national convention July 15 through July 18 in Milwaukee. The party is expected to have roughly 2,469 delegates, with 2,365 delegates committed to a candidate and 104 uncommitted. This would mean a candidate becomes the party’s presidential nominee with 1,235 delegates.
Lewandowski said the RNC has the legal ability to coordinate with joint fundraising committees, pays the salaries for field offices and field workers, and controls the expenditure of millions of dollars, such as television and direct mail advertising, in a presidential campaign year.
“If you don’t, if you don’t have the right people in that particular entity, right, you’re literally turning over one-third to half of your campaign to somebody who isn’t responsible to you,” he said.
Very Kind words this week from President Trump during his visit to NH. pic.twitter.com/wGSfKHVdeK
— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) October 26, 2023
The Lowell, Massachusetts, native said there is ample tradition and practice for the Republican presidential nominee to take over the party apparatus.
“That was historically the case, whether it was H.W. Bush, whether it was W. Bush, whether it was Reagan, whether it was Mitt Romney, whether it was John McCain,” he said.
Lewandowski said the biggest mistake the Trump campaign made in 2016 was not taking control of the RNC. It was so important that he and his rival inside the campaign, Paul Manafort, joined forces to make the case to Trump.
“Paul Manafort and I — and I have very little respect for Paul — we impressed upon then-candidate Trump that we have to take over the RNC, we have to take over the building,” he said.
The men told Trump: “Reince Priebus can keep his office, but all the resources that the RNC had should now fall under the Republican nominee’s control,” he said.
Lewandowski and Manafort failed when Priebus, then the RNC chairman, convinced Trump to leave him in charge.
“Reince Priebus came in to see Donald Trump with Sean Spicer, and they said: ‘No, no, no. We’ll take care of this. You don’t need to do it,’” he said.
“It was a critical mistake,” the husband and father of four said. “In 2020, we didn’t have that problem. He was the sitting president.”
Lewandowski: 2024 Trump campaign avoiding mistakes made in 2020
Lewandowski said that the 2020 campaign had other problems that had nothing to do with election irregularities — and he desperately tried to warn Trump in the late spring that the campaign was in trouble.
“I don’t take any credit for complaining about the 2020 campaign, but I did press the button in probably April or May of that year and say: ‘Listen, this thing isn’t going well.’”
The University of Massachusetts at Lowell graduate said the 2020 Trump campaign was a sluggish behemoth.
“We had at the time, on election day of 2020, there were about 3,000 full-time employees at the Trump-Pence campaign,” he said. “To put that in perspective, on Election Night of 2016 — when we won the election — there were 250 full-time employees.”
It was the mirror of the 2016 Clinton campaign, he said.
“In 2020, did exactly what Hillary Clinton did was we built this massive operation fed this giant beast, blew through $1.2 billion,” he said. “We told ourselves that we were inevitably going to win because we were the greatest, smartest, sharpest, and people were buying their own hype.”
Lewandowski said the 2024 Trump campaign is a different story from 2020.
“The 2024 campaign is very disciplined,” he said.
“It helps that Donald Trump does not feel obligated to go out and do a rally every day, and so look, they have a strategy and methodology,” he said.
“Susie Wiles, who’s been a friend of mine for a long time, is the senior strategist on the campaign,” he said. “Chris LaCivita from Virginia is a commodity that has been around politics for a long time, and Brian Jack, the former White House political director, is over there.”
This cycle, the Trump campaign is run in a tight circle of trusted and highly competent operators, Lewandowski said.
“The difference is the team is relatively small,” he said.
“I think the team has done a good job building that operation and keeping at bay some of the crazies who have these ideas that just aren’t helpful,” he said.
“They disappeared for two or three years but are now starting to rear their heads again,” the consultant said. “You see them on television saying: ‘Hey, I went to Mar-a-Lago. I sat on the patio, I had dinner with Donald Trump,’ and they feel the need to tell everybody everything.”
Right now, the Trump team is focused on the delegate count and changing state party rules so that more states, such as Louisiana, have winner-take-all primaries.
“If Donald Trump gets one more vote than Ron Sanctimonious or Nikki Haley or Chris Christie or anybody else, he gets all the delegates,” he said.
“That is what they have been working on. That’s something that comes with experience and time and money,” he said.
“If you are a betting person, your money should be on Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee, and if the election were held today, he’s the next president of the United States.”