Donald Trump, hitting reset on his 2016 campaign, is preparing to roll out his first wave of general election TV ads in four pivotal battleground states after shaking up the top echelon of his team in a bid to focus his message and make up lost ground in the polls against Hillary Clinton.
“I am committed to doing whatever it takes to win this election, and ultimately become President because our country cannot afford four more years of the failed Obama-Clinton policies which have endangered our financial and physical security,” the Republican nominee said in a statement early Wednesday announcing the latest staffing changes.
In what was described as an expansion, Trump promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager and named Stephen Bannon, the co-founder of Breitbart News, as campaign chief executive. Trump said in the statement that Paul Manafort, who took over following the departure of Corey Lewandowski in June, will maintain his current title and work closely with Conway and Bannon on the campaign moving forward.
Meanwhile, a senior Trump aide told Fox News the campaign will be rolling out TV ads Friday in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina.
This would be three days earlier than Manafort originally planned – the campaign had been preparing to launch ads after the Olympics, which end Sunday. Clinton, though, has been plastering the airwaves with ads, while taking a significant post-convention lead in a number of battleground and national polls.
Trump seems to be changing up his approach, amid concerns that his off-the-cuff style could be hurting him in the general election environment. In a shift, he delivered a scripted speech to a rally audience Tuesday night in Wisconsin, appealing to minority voters in part by accusing Clinton of "bigotry" and saying she sees African-Americans as no more than votes to be won.
In an interview with Fox News, Trump voiced confidence in the state of his campaign.
“We’ve got a lot of money in the bank and I haven’t spent any of it,” he said, while confirming his campaign would be airing ads soon.
“We’ve got some pretty good ads,” he said.
In a statement, Trump also called Conway and Bannon “extremely capable.”
Conway told Fox News that “everyone else” on the campaign will remain in place.
“This is an expansion during the busy homestretch in the campaign,” she added.
Trump will step off the stump Wednesday in order to attend his first classified briefing from intelligence officials, at the FBI office in New York.
On a conference call, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook suggested little would change for Trump despite the staffing changes.
“What’s become clear from this is that no matter how much the establishment wants to clean Donald Trump up … and get him on message, he has officially won the fight to let Trump be Trump,” he said. “It’s time that we believe him.”
Though Trump previously has resisted repeated calls from fellow Republicans to change his approach on the campaign trail that has powered his surge to the top of the GOP field in the primary season, recent poll numbers have showed that Clinton has a sizeable lead in several key states. It could force Trump to pivot as the campaign moves forward, though he still downplays that possibility.
"You know, I am who I am," he told a local Wisconsin television station Tuesday. "It's me. I don't want to change. Everyone talks about, 'Oh, well you're going to pivot, you're going to.' I don't want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you're not being honest with people."
The Associated Press reported that the moves were discussed at a lengthy senior staff meeting at Trump Tower Tuesday while the billionaire mogul was on the road. Additional senior hires are expected to come in the next few days.
Trump, whose campaign is built on his persona as a winner, said several times that the campaign is "doing well," and said his speech hours earlier in Wisconsin Tuesday was well-received.
"We're going to be doing something very dramatic," Trump added.
In the Wisconsin outing, Trump accused Clinton of "bigotry" and being "against the police," claiming that she and other Democrats have "betrayed the African American community" and pandered for votes.
Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri responded with a statement early Wednesday accusing Trump of being the bigot instead.
"With each passing Trump attack, it becomes clearer that his strategy is just to say about Hillary Clinton what's true of himself. When people started saying he was temperamentally unfit, he called Hillary the same. When his ties to the Kremlin came under scrutiny, he absurdly claimed that Hillary was the one who was too close to Putin. Now he's accusing her of bigoted remarks -- We think the American people will know which candidate is guilty of the charge," she said.
Fox News’ Christopher Snyder, Carl Cameron, Dan Gallo and Jason Donner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.