Former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is an outspoken and bare knuckles political operative whose personal style seemed to mesh with the brash presumptive Republican presidential nominee before he became a lightning rod for criticism.
Lewandowski’s reputation for confrontation, including one landmark incident with a reporter at a Trump rally in Florida, served the business mogul well enough during the political knife fights of the primaries.
But with the campaign growing and facing the complex demands of a national general election contest against a seasoned Democratic opponent in Hillary Clinton, Lewandowski’s resume, his persona — and the negative attention it attracted — didn’t match the campaign anymore.
A statement from Trump’s New York headquarters on Monday noted that Lewandowski no longer worked for the campaign and thanked him for his efforts. He departed a month before Trump’s formal nomination at the GOP convention in Cleveland.
“I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that,” Lewandowski told CNN’s Dana Bash when asked in an interview why he was no longer part of the team.
He added that he had “no regrets” about being part of Trump’s campaign.
Lewandowski had a been a lobbyist and a staffer on Capitol Hill, where nearly 20 years ago he tried to carry a bag of laundry into work with a gun in it. He said it was all a misunderstanding.
He became a seasoned campaign operative, working for the Republican National Committee in 2001 as the legislative political director for the Northeast region before becoming the campaign manager for the 2002 re-election campaign of then-Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. Smith lost in a primary.
He became a lobbyist and later went to work for the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, first as East Coast regional director, then as national director of voter registration, a position he held until coming on board with Trump in January of last year.
The world got to know him during an ugly episode in March, when Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields approached Trump at a post-election event in Florida to ask a question.
Fields alleged that Lewandowski grabbed her arm aggressively, bruising her, while trying to keep her away from the candidate.
The incident touched off a political firestorm over how Trump was using intimidation and other aggressive tactics — especially with the media — in the conduct of his campaign.
Lewandowski denied touching Fields, but video evidence contradicted his account. Misdemeanor charges were filed and then dropped.
At the time, Trump defended Lewandowski, tweeting that he was a “very decent man” and that there was nothing to Field’s allegation.
Trump strategist Paul Manafort, who is a well-known Republican operative with high-level presidential campaign experience, is in charge now, a Trump senior adviser told the Times. And there is no word on whether Lewandowski will be replaced.
He could have two jobs to fill, actually. Another Trump adviser, Michael Caputo, offered his resignation after tweeting “Ding Dong the witch is dead” after word that Lewandowski had left the campaign, according to CNN.
Trump nailed down enough delegates to clinch the nomination several weeks ago. Yet, he’s still working to scale his operation, raise money and garner Republican support.
His unfavorable ratings outside his core supporters are high, and Clinton is wasting no time trying to paint him into a corner as too unpredictable and temperamental to serve as president.