— -- Donald Trump is pivoting away from the primary process and toward the general election in what Trump senior adviser Ed Brookover calls a natural growth of the campaign.
Following a meeting with Republican lawmakers this morning, Brookover spoke to ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein for the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast. This morning's gathering was the first in a series of regular sessions that will occur once a week while Congress is in session as the campaign begins to expand its Washington, D.C., operation.
“We had more than a handful of our public supporters there communicating to the campaign of what it is they need to garner more support,” Brookover said. “We are beginning to pivot away from a primary-only process to one looking forward to being the party’s nominee and beating Hillary Clinton this fall.”
The purpose of the meetings is for the campaign to begin to listen and learn about concerns members of Congress have, along with discussion of strategy to court uncommitted Republican lawmakers, as the New York businessman works to lock up the GOP nomination ahead of the convention this summer.
Shedding some light on the campaign’s delegate tracking efforts, Brookover said the campaign has plans to go after Sen. Ted Cruz’s delegates if Trump loses his fight for delegates on the first ballot at the national convention in Cleveland.
“I think Mr. Trump will be willing to do what needs to be done to make sure that we get past 1,237,” Brookover said, touting the campaign’s delegate efforts. He would not share where they plan on going after Cruz’s delegates but said the campaign “will celebrate when it happens.”
If no candidate reaches the magic number of 1,237 votes to win the nomination on the first ballot, most delegates are free to vote for whomever they choose on a second ballot and subsequent ballots until a candidate clinches a majority of the votes.
Also giving some insight into the recent senior staff changes, Brookover acknowledged the need for expanding Trump’s inner circle, calling the hiring of convention manager Paul Manafort only natural.
“[Trump campaign manager] Corey [Lewandowski] and Paul are working hand in hand right now,” Brookover said. “Right now, I think what you’re seeing is nothing more than what I would call growing from a small business to a larger business, growing from primary to general.”
Manafort was added to the Trump team as the campaign’s convention manager, showing that the Trump campaign is grappling with the inner workings a possible contested convention.
In an interview on Tuesday, Karl asked Trump whether he and his campaign were ready for the delegate-by-delegate fight that is dominating the primary.
“No, I was ready for a democratic race, meaning, you know, democracy,” Trump said. “And this is not democracy, this is not democracy at its finest.”
Trump emphasized that he is still ahead of rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich (whom he called “two leftovers”) in the delegates race.
“I think we’re doing very well but despite that, it’s a rigged system it’s a very unfair system and it’s not democracy,” he added.