Top Trump Advisers with Rhode Island Ties

Sunday, June 12, 2016


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There are a number of campaign advisers for Donald Trump with strong Rhode Island ties, as the presumptive GOP Presidential nominee moves towards the Republican National Convention in July — with an ultimate focus on winning the White House in November. 

Former Rhode Island congressional and gubernatorial staff and campaign aides are currently big players on the national scene with Trump, who has reportedly dropped in recent polls, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday. 

“Clinton has 39% support to Trump's 36%, with Johnson pulling 12% backing, according to the survey of 1,004 registered voters, which was conducted June 5-8.With Johnson dropped from consideration, Clinton's lead remains three percentage points -- 42% to Trump's 39% -- the poll found,” reported CNN. 

So who with Rhode Island connections is looking to lead Trump to victory? SEE BELOW

Judge Comments Under Scrutiny

Former State Representative Nick Gorham offered his thoughts about the race, as one of Trump’s top advisers had also advised his father, Brad Gorham. 

“I’d tell Jim that he should be careful what [Trump] says about judges. I just don’t think it’s a good idea for the President to be critical of judges," said Gorham. "When Obama did, I didn’t think it was the place of a President. It doesn’t look presidential.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan "scolded" Trump for questioning the impartiality of US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in the current case against Trump University (according to Business Insider's Oliver Darcy) ; the New York Time’s Allan Rappeport reported this week that Trump felt his remarks were “misconstrued.”

Rhode Island State Representative and Trump’s Rhode Island campaign chair Joe Trillo offered his take on the judge debate. 

“I don’t think Trump’s remarks were taken out of context. I think if you have strong Mexican ties — and I didn’t do a means test, but if Trump did — would it be prejudiced? I don’t know,” said Trillo. “But if you’ve got a case that can blow up your election, I can see where he’s coming from.” 


Related Slideshow: Trump’s National Advisers with RI Ties

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Ken McKay

Chief of staff to former Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri, McKay has woven a trail of key GOP appointments for himself that have led him to his latest position, when he was brought on board the Trump campaign in April as one of his top advisers. 

McKay was former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s chief of staff, and was the Political Director at the Republican Governors Association’s under Chris Christie’s chairmanship -- and was a key Christie consultant this presidential cycle until the the NJ Governor stepped down and threw his support behind Trump.

“McKay’s a huge asset for Trump. He’s got both the national ties, and he’s got the inside the beltway relationships that Trump doesn’t have,” said Rhode Island political operative Jeff Britt. “McKay’s well liked and well-respected in a way that Trump isn’t, and I think that will have an effect.”

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Jim Murphy

A recent shake up in the Trump campaign has been the hiring of veteran operative Jim Murphy as its political director — who had served as advisor to former Rhode Island House Minority leader Brad Gorham when he ran unsuccessfully for Attorney General in 1990.  

Murphy has worked with other presidential candidates including Bob Dole and Mitt Romney, and is the former president of the Republican PR and lobby shop DCI Group.

Gorham's son Nick, who is a former state representative, remembers Murphy’s involvement in the race. Brad Gorham passed away in 2015. 

"Jim Murphy was a nice guy who helped my dad, but it was a tough year for Republicans, which is non unusual for RI," said Gorham.  

Photo: LinkedIn

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Paul Manafort

Trump's now top campaign strategist has GOP ties to Rhode Island, having been a top campaign aide for former Rhode Island Governor Ed DiPrete in the 1980s.

Politico mentioned Manafort's DiPrete connection when he joined forces with the presumptive GOP nominee in April; Manafort's presence on the national stage has been well documented.

"For Trump, who has cast himself as an outsider to the Republican Party firmament, there could hardly be a less outsider-y pick than his new hire. Manafort was uniquely predisposed to become an insider in Republican politics: His father, for whom he was named, served as mayor for three terms in New Britain, Conn. When the elder Paul Manafort died in 2013, his obituary noted that he had served as a delegate or alternate delegate at past Republican national conventions," wrote Rebecca Berg for

Another DiPrete operative — Marc Palazzo — had been named in the press as having had recent conversations with Manafort, but Palazzo told GoLocal he is not involved with the campaign in any capacity.


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