Donald Trump is not a dumb man. He didn't get to where he is - in this presidential race and in life generally - by not grasping when things are slipping away from him and making the necessary changes to correct the problem.

That's exactly what Trump did when he announced Paul Manafort, an old political hand, would serve as "convention manager" - a position from which he "will oversee, manage, and be responsible for all activities that pertain to Mr Trump's delegate process and the Cleveland Convention".

No, you are not the only one thinking that such a job description makes it sound like Manafort, not previously affiliated with Trump's campaign, is being put in charge of Trump's entire operation. The reason you think that is because that's what is happening.

Yes, the Trump release notes that Manafort will work "closely with campaign manager Corey R Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager Michael Glassner". But the writing appears to be on the wall. Manafort will run things going forward.


That's both a smart move by the real estate mogul and a recognition that Lewandowski, who was charged last week with battery for grabbing a reporter during a March rally in Florida, isn't best suited to the task that faces Trump: winning delegates in district and state conventions, making inroads in the District of Columbia political community and rounding off some of Trump's sharper edges.

In truth, Lewandowski has never operated the way that a traditional campaign manager at the presidential level would. Typically, the campaign manager spends the vast majority of his or her time in the campaign headquarters - serving as the conductor of the orchestra rather than, say, the first violin.

That's a recognition of how many moving parts there are in any presidential race - much less one like this that seems to be headed toward the first brokered convention in modern political history.

Lewandowski, by contrast, has been part of Trump's travelling retinue for the entirety of this campaign. His role has always felt more like the job description of a candidate's body man - serve as a confidant and travelling companion to the principal - than of a campaign manager.

It is impossible to simultaneously oversee the deep-in-the-weeds effort of delegate assigning, the on-the-ground organising in future caucuses and primaries, the outreach to the political establishment and 1000 other things while also serving as the sounding board on the road for the candidate.

There's a reason that Matt Rhoades managed Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign from Boston while Bob White, a longtime Romney friend, and Stuart Stevens, a GOP strategist, served as the road crew for the governor. No one can do all of those jobs at once. Or, more accurately, no one can do all of those jobs well.

This move to Manafort seems to be a recognition by Trump that after losing the Wisconsin primary and seeing himself outmanoeuvred in the delegate selection processes in places like North Dakota and Louisiana, it was time to put someone in charge who had been through all this before. It strikes me as an honest analysis of what his senior people - especially Lewandowski - are good at and, by extension, what they aren't good at.

It also looks to be the takeover - or, at least the partial takeover - of professional political types within Trumpworld.

Manafort joins people like Rick Reed and Ed Brookover, longtime GOP strategists, as non-original Trumpians now in the campaign's inner circle.

The question, as always with Trump, is how much he listens to anyone not named Donald J Trump. Who he puts in charge of the campaign only matters if he is willing to actually take that person's advice. Whether Manafort can have Trump's ear is a question that still needs answering.

- Washington Post - Bloomberg