WASHINGTON - (AP) -- President Donald Trump has named former digital adviser Brad Parscale as campaign manager of his 2020 re-election campaign.
In a statement, the Trump campaign said Parscale will lead "advanced planning" for the 2020 effort, and that the campaign will also be engaged in the 2018 midterm elections — which are shaping up to be a challenging environment for Republicans.
Trump has left little doubt about his intentions to seek re-election. He filed the paperwork to organize his re-election committee on the same day as his inauguration, held his first campaign rally on Feb. 18, 2017, in Florida, and has mused publicly about would-be Democratic challengers.
Parscale, an Austin-based digital consultant and ally of Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, ran the Trump campaign's digital operations in 2016, which included sophisticated social media targeting. He previously worked for the Trump Organization.
Parscale has long been close with the Trump family, a priority for the president as he begins planning his re-election strategy, according to a person familiar with the campaign planning but not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.
Starting in 2011, Parscale had done some web design work for the Trump family— including the president's real estate firm and his son Eric Trump's charity — before Kushner hired him for the campaign.
The two men helped craft the 2016 team's digital strategy, which has been widely credited for helping Trump pull off his upset victory. Paracale also established close ties with Eric Trump and his wife, Lara, who in turn was hired by Parscale's Texas-based digital firm.
Working with Kushner, Parscale and Katie Walsh, then the chief of staff of the Republican National Committee, served as de-facto campaign managers, overseeing nearly all aspects of campaign.
In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" last year, Parscale described how a team that grew to 100 people created 50,000 to 60,000 ads on Facebook daily to reach different swaths of Trump supporters to maximize support and online donations.
Trump has prioritized loyalty in his next campaign after feeling burned by some of his previous campaign staffers, according to multiple people familiar with his thinking. Trump has angrily denounced and publicly marginalized Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, whom he blames for smearing the president's reputation with his own entanglements to Russia. Manafort is now facing charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller on money laundering and bank fraud relating to his past work on behalf of the Ukrainian government.
And Trump later soured on a subsequent campaign force, Steve Bannon, who drew the president's wrath inside the White House for taking too much of the spotlight and, later, portraying his family in a negative light in interveriews with "Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff.
Trump's campaign remains based in New York, with its headquarters just floors below the president's penthouse in Trump Tower, and Lara Trump has become, in many ways, the face of the early days of the president's re-election campaign. She has appeared in a series of online news videos meant to be an alternative from mainstream media outlets and, alongside longtime staffer Michael Glassner, has helped steer Trump's initial fundraising efforts and schedule his signature campaign rallies.
She and her husband, key members of Trump's first campaign, are expected to play an even larger role for 2020. Kushner also has been discussed as someone to return to leading the re-election effort, according to the person familiar with campaign strategy.
In a statement, Eric Trump, the president's middle son who has taken on a large role in the campaign, said, Parscale "has our family's complete trust and is the perfect person to be at the helm of the campaign."
Kushner also praised Parscale in a statement. "Brad was essential in bringing a disciplined technology and data-driven approach to how the 2016 campaign was run," he said. "His leadership and expertise will be help build a best-in-class campaign."