From Facebook to campaign manager: Trump taps Brad Parscale

Parscale was a name that remained largely unknown throughout the 2016 campaign, despite his lofty influence

By Shira Tarlo

Published February 27, 2018 6:00PM (EST)

Brad Parscale; Donald Trump (AP/Carolyn Kaster/Evan Vucci)
Brad Parscale; Donald Trump (AP/Carolyn Kaster/Evan Vucci)

President Trump announced Tuesday that long-time aide Brad Parscale will helm his 2020 re-election bid as campaign manager. This marks a second promotion for Parscale, who ran Trump's digital efforts during the 2016 election after working for the Trump Organization as a digital strategist.

Among a team that included Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Paul Manafort, Brad Parscale was a name that remained largely unknown throughout 2016, despite his lofty influence. But the relative anonymity of the digital advertising and data guru began to chip away Tuesday as the Trump team touted its secret weapon.

The campaign announced the appointment on the president's campaign website, saying Parscale, who has continued to lead the Republican National Committee's digital strategy, will develop the campaign's infrastructure and support Republican candidates in the midterm elections this coming fall.
Parscale's designation seemed to come as no surprise to Trump's inner circle. In a post shared to the president's campaign website, Eric Trump, called Parscale "an amazing talent" who was "pivotal to our success in 2016," while Jared Kushner said that Pascale was "essential to bringing a disciplined technology and data-driven approach to how the 2016 campaign was run."

Parscale's previous "digital director" title is somewhat misleading, because by the end of the 2016 campaign, his portfolio expanded to include overseeing advertising, data collection, and a significant portion of the campaign's fundraising. By adding a "donate" button for people to click on in online ads, Parscale helped raise $240 million in small donations for the then-Republican candidate.

"I was like, 'we can go in and get this,' and I changed all the budgets around," Parscale told CBS's "60 Minutes" in a rare on-camera interview last year. "I took every nickel and dime I could out of anywhere else, and I moved it to Michigan and Wisconsin. And I started buying advertising, digital, TV."

In the same interview, Parscale revealed that Trump had initial doubts about the power of digital advertising to reach voters, but he eventually embraced it.

"He looks at the TV, and he says, 'This is what I believe wins a campaign,'" Parscale recalls. "So he starts laying into me about TV ... and I don't believe in this mumbo-jumbo digital stuff."

While the president is known for depending on Twitter to get his message out, Parscale spent much of the campaign's digital budget on Facebook. "I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win," Parscale said. "Twitter is how he talked to the people. Facebook was going to be how he won."

Parscale also said that he created hundreds of micro-targeted advertisements for specific voter communities. He also embedded Republican employees of Facebook, Twitter, and Google into the campaign to maximize effectiveness across platforms.

The aforementioned tech leaders have been under scrutiny in Robert Mueller's probe over Russian interference in the 2016 election. When asked what he thinks about the investigation, Parscale told 60 minutes that the Russia plot line is pushed by liberals who are upset by Trump's victory. Parscale claimed the situation is ironic because, "These social platforms were all invented by very liberal people on the west and east coast, and we found a way to use it to push conservative values. I don't ever think they ever thought that would happen. "

Parscale insisted that allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia were "a joke." Still, the House Intelligence Committee contacted him as part of its probe into Russian meddling.




Shira Tarlo

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