Trump campaign planning to open Washington, DC office

AP News
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Posted: Mar 28, 2016 10:56 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's campaign is planning to open a new office in Washington, D.C. that will house its delegate selection and management team and its congressional relations team. It's a sign that the billionaire businessman's campaign is entering a new phase as he inches closer to securing his party's nomination.

The office, which will be the campaign's first major expansion of senior staff outside of New York, will serve as a home base for staff overseeing outreach to Congress as well as some policy staffers and others, said campaign senior adviser Barry Bennett. He's hoping to open the office as soon as next week, after space is found and a lease signed.

The move comes as the campaign appears to be entering a new phase as attention shifts from winning in early-voting states to ensuring that Trump has the delegates he needs to win the nomination even if he falls short of locking down the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination ahead of the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer.

The campaign has brought on a number of Washington area-based staffers in recent weeks, including Bennett, as Trump faces the uncertainty of a potentially contested convention and continued resistance from many quarters of his party.

Bennett rejected the idea that the office was an acknowledgement that the campaign needs to build better relationships with Republicans on the Hill, but said it would nonetheless help with those efforts.

"It's an acknowledgement that he's the nominee: he's the presumptive nominee," he said. "Having an office here in Washington and working with them every day will make it a lot easier to do that."

In addition to the new space, the campaign also announced Monday that it has hired Paul Manafort, a seasoned Washington hand with decades of convention experience to be its convention manager. Manafort, who has known Trump for decades, will oversee the campaign's "entire convention presence," said Bennett, including a potential contested convention.

That hire was first reported by the New York Times.

The campaign will also be naming congressional chairs and rolling out new endorsements in the next week or so, Bennett said.

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Colvin contributed from Newark, New Jersey