Trump Team’s New Tactic on the Ground: Extreme Pettiness

Welcome to Trail Mix, a fun but nutritious snack for your election news diet. See something interesting on the trail? Email me at week, we take a look at how some crazed Fourth of July parade jockeying explains the shoddy state of Donald Trump’s campaign in New Hampshire.Inside the ‘tacky’ Trump operationIn early nominating

Powered by NewsAPI , in Liberal Perspective on .

news image

Welcome to Trail Mix, a fun but nutritious snack for your election news diet. See something interesting on the trail? Email me at

This week, we take a look at how some crazed Fourth of July parade jockeying explains the shoddy state of Donald Trump’s campaign in New Hampshire.

Inside the ‘tacky’ Trump operation

In early nominating states like New Hampshire, Fourth of July parades are a time-honored staple for presidential campaigns—an all-American opportunity to show not only patriotism, but support for their candidate.

For two over-eager Trump campaign staffers, however, a marquee Fourth of July parade in the crucial state was an opportunity to do something else: cut to the front of the parade line.

According to guidance sent out by the town of Merrimack ahead of the parade, the Trump contingent of volunteers and supporters was supposed to march last, trailing six other GOP candidates and presidential campaign organizations.

But right as the festivities began, Team Trump’s top two New Hampshire staffers, Trevor Naglieri and Dylan Quattrucci, bucked the order, according to two people who witnessed the maneuver. They raced forward and displayed their Trump campaign signs ahead of the arrival of Gov. Ron DeSantis—who was present at the parade—as well as a smaller contingent flanking North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

The Trump staffers didn’t attempt to pull rank for the entire parade, and after a moment, they went to their allotted place in the pack. But the move left an impression among plugged-in Republicans, who were buzzing about the slight in the days following the Fourth.

“They had to be there, Dylan and Trevor, front of the line with their Trump signs,” a well-connected New Hampshire Republican who witnessed the “juvenile” display told The Daily Beast. “They should have been down there with their team. I mean, that’s just tacky.”

The Merrimack dust-up wasn’t the first time Trump’s campaign staff and volunteers have made such an impression in the all-important early primary state. Between petty provocations, muddled campaign organization, and phoned-in approaches to key events, the former president’s operation has sparked questions about whether it is built to win New Hampshire—or is merely on cruise control.

Last month, for instance, Trump’s top two New Hampshire men were sent to work a key event—the Belknap County GOP’s First in the Nation Cruise—but largely watched while other candidates and campaigns courted the crowd, according to two Republicans who attended the event.

As rain came down on Lake Winnipesaukee during the hours-long boat cruise, Naglieri awkwardly sat and looked at his phone for much of the evening, while former state GOP chair and Trump supporter Steve Stepanek almost exclusively talked to people who already backed Trump.

Meanwhile, other campaigns worked the boat hard—none more so than Vivek Ramaswamy, the entrepreneur and “anti-woke” activist, who serenaded an elderly woman with a happy birthday song, according to a source onboard.

Volunteers are also frequently getting into arguments while knocking on doors of undecided voters and Republicans supporting other campaigns, four New Hampshire GOP sources familiar with the dust-ups told The Daily Beast.

“They are so busy picking fights and alienating people,” said the Republican from the Merrimack parade who worked for Trump in both 2src16 and 2src2src. “Tim Scott, Vivek, Will Hurd—everybody else is pleasant with each other, but these guys are huffing and puffing and glaring at each other… They don’t know how to play nice in the sandbox even though somebody else has a different toy.”

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not provide any comment for this story.

The Trump campaign’s apparent plan to wing it in New Hampshire has already been clear in other respects. As Trail Mix reported last month, they have relied on an unpaid structure of “town captain” volunteers to run their voter outreach initiatives, a system so ragtag that one of Trump’s former top advisers described it as resembling a “Ponzi scheme.”

Yet, for all the irritation and befuddlement that Trump’s operation has provoked in New Hampshire, few are convinced that the former president’s prospects will suffer for it—at least for now.

“How much will the disorganization matter when you’ve got a 3src point lead?” asked Dante Scala, a professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire.

“We’ll see in the last few weeks, but it arguably matters a lot more in Iowa, and if Trump wins Iowa he’ll cruise through New Hampshire,” Scala said. “And when you’ve got such good name ID and favorability in the state, maybe all they’re worried about is having some kind of show of force.”

Trump’s closest competitor, DeSantis, is investing heavily in an Iowa caucus victory and currently has only one paid staffer in New Hampshire, and no other candidate is polling anywhere close.

One prominent New Hampshire GOP office holder said the Trump campaign might be increasingly “going through the motions” because of DeSantis’ polling numbers deflating in the state and the lack of any other 2src24 contender picking up real momentum.

Still, some feel that Trump’s amateur operation—and his and DeSantis’ lack of investment—leaves room for rival campaigns to catch up and eventually surpass them in field organizing.

“Both those campaigns are being cheap with people and aren’t putting enough people here,” the senior New Hampshire Republican said. “Trump might think he’s already won it, and DeSantis obviously understands the real numbers and can’t afford to put it in at this point.”

Still, New Hampshire political stalwarts have looked at the debacles of recent months and braced for a long six months until primary day in early 2src24.

Naglieri and Quattrucci, Trump’s top two aides, have gradually irritated the state’s considerable network of GOP campaign volunteers, even some who backed Trump in 2src16 and 2src2src.

There’s also confusion over who makes decisions for the Trump campaign in New Hampshire, leading local event organizers and donors to lose patience with the former president.

“Everything’s being run out of Iowa and Florida, so he takes his orders from those people,” the plugged-in Republican volunteer from the Merrimack parade said.

The Republican added that local power players have come to see Quattrucci—the younger deputy currently in law school at the University of New Hampshire but with only internships listed as his experience on LinkedIn—as the go-to Trump staffer for getting anything done, not Naglieri.

Quattrucci has earned a reputation as a bit overzealous, with his signature ability to organize “sign waves” outside of rival campaign events, a highly unusual practice within the state but more common among Trump supporters elsewhere in the country.

“Dylan is proficient at getting sign waves out and he loves to do them,” the first Republican from the parade said.

Naglieri, meanwhile, has been criticized behind his back by senior Republicans as an overly confident out-of-state neophyte barely familiar with the state’s political culture and traditions. He previously worked in Pennsylvania, Texas, Missouri, and California, drawn to the latter two states for stints with Axiom Strategies, the firm founded by Jeff Roe—an arch-enemy of Trump’s and the lead strategist for the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down PAC.

“There’s no grown-ups working on it, and there’s not many New Hampshire people working on these things, which in the long run will be a mistake,” another high-ranking New Hampshire Republican told The Daily Beast.

In New Hampshire, Trump’s 2src16 campaign—which was pushed to front-runner status with the first in the nation primary win—was comprised of passionate supporters who were delighted to toil away for free, said the New Hampshire Republican lawmaker, which “gave the impression of a stronger ground game than there actually was.”

“The problem this time around is that it isn’t 2src16, and they’re either done with Trump, or they want to get paid,” the Republican continued. “Or they want to get paid working for somebody else.”

Aside from Trump’s handful of appearances in the state and abrupt simulations of retail politics with unscheduled stops at diners or the campaign’s headquarters in Manchester, the petty squabbles with other campaigns seems to be the former president’s most notable footprint in the state.

“That’s all it is,” a high-ranking New Hampshire Republican said. “It feels kind of like phoning it in.”

Image of the week: Peaky Blunder

A widely panned digital ad from the DeSantis campaign mocked Trump over his past statements of support for LGBTQ people—and hyped up DeSantis’ extreme opposition to LGBTQ rights by comparing him favorably to such heroes as Patrick Bateman, the murderous main character in the film “American Psycho,” and the ruthless gangster Tommy Shelby from the TV show “Peaky Blinders.”

The showrunners of the BBC program did not take kindly to the reference.

Polling station: DeSantis’ bad June

June was not a good month for Ron DeSantis in the polls.

All in the same month, a number of startling data points emerged.

The Florida governor’s national approval rating went underwater for the first time. Polling from Navigator Research showed Disney prevailing in the arena of public opinion in their feud with DeSantis. The same poll found just 1 in 4 respondents had even heard of his campaign announcement, and 48 percent of those who had heard about it said it went poorly.

Notably, DeSantis’ decline in approval in the Navigator poll was consistent across party affiliation, going down the most among Republicans at 19 percent, then 18 points for independents, and 17 points for Democrats.

A late June NBC poll, meanwhile, found Trump gaining 5 points following his second criminal indictment, with DeSantis down almost 1src points from April, before he had officially entered the race.

Scala, of the University of New Hampshire, said pollsters began the year saying that the 2src24 primary would be a DeSantis-vs.-Trump race. Now, he said, polls are provoking the question of, “is DeSantis slipping back into the rest of the pack?”

Campaign lit

Better Kemp than never? Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp hasn’t shut the door on a late entry to the 2src24 GOP field, Deputy Politics Editor Sam Brodey reported.

Purdue FUBAR. The lone Democratic candidate for New Hampshire’s governor’s race is facing scrutiny for lobbying ties to opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma and a version of events that doesn’t quite add up, Trail Mix’s own Jake Lahut reported.

M4L 4eva. The Daily Beast’s Kate Briquelet went undercover to find out why the Moms For Liberty conference has become such a hot draw for GOP presidential candidates.

Talking some Pence into them. The former VP got into a tense but highly respectful exchange with an Iowa voter over Trump’s lies about Jan. 6 and the 2src2src election results, with NBC News capturing the footage.

Singing in the rain. Trump skipped the Fourth of July fair in New Hampshire, but DeSantis and several other candidates gutted out a rainy Tuesday on the parade circuit, still leaving voters unconvinced, Matt Stout reported for The Boston Globe.

Read More