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The Hill: Trump Builds Political Machine in Primary States

Kevin Cirilli writes at The Hill: 

Donald Trump is assembling a team of political strategists and campaign staffers charged with sustaining his lead in the Republican presidential polls.

While strategists say Trump still got a ways to go to catch up to his rivals for the White House, he is taking aggressive steps to build a political machine, particularly in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

With his popularity among Republican voters seemingly impervious to controversy — even rival Jeb Bush has called his candidacy a “phenomenon” — the billionaire businessman is in an enviable position heading into the first Republican debate on Thursday in Cleveland.

“The proof is in the pudding: He’s winning. So by definition doing the right thing… People like his attitude. He’s a scrapper. He fights,” one political strategist said.

“He jumped into the race and stunned everyone by soaring to the top of polls — and maintaining a lead,” the strategist said. “Now he’s building the infrastructure around it and he’s putting together a pretty good campaign team.”

Earlier this week, Trump announced that he’d hired Michael Glassner, a former chief of staff to 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Glassner was also an adviser to former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) during his presidential campaign.

Glassner is joining a Trump team that is expanding on the ground in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — key caucus and primary states that are often decisive in the march to the nomination.

While strategists suggested that Trump is lagging behind the infrastructure of other campaigns, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski expressed confidence that their organizing efforts are on track.

“I don’t think we’re outnumbered at all,” said Lewandowski, a former director at the conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP). “The poll numbers show that Mr. Trump is the leading candidate … his message to ‘Make America Great Again’ is resonating.”

Read the full story. 

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