Meet the Man Tasked With Getting Trump the Republican Nomination

Paul Manafort has done extensive work on presidential conventions.

ByABC News
April 11, 2016, 12:32 PM

— -- Donald Trump's campaign manager made national headlines and gained the attention of the police when he was arrested for alleged battery of a reporter.

Now, the latest addition to the team is drawing a different kind of attention.

Paul Manafort has been added to the Trump team as the campaign’s convention manager, showing that the real estate magnate-turned-reality star-turned politician is grappling with the inner workings of a possible contested convention.

Party Ties

Unlike much of Trump's relatively young staff that helped the Republican front-runner earn his early primary victories, Manafort is arguably more of an establishment figure.

Even though the Trump campaign's release only credits Manafort, 66, with experience spanning three decades, one of his biggest victories came four decades ago.

Manafort reportedly played a significant role in the 1976 convention where Gerald Ford ended up winning the nomination in spite of a fight from Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole.That’s the last time Republicans had no clear nominee going into the convention.

Manafort went on to work for Reagan and George H.W. Bush in later years.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole looks up from the podium as convention center manager Paul Manafort, at right, points out preparations for Dole's acceptance speech in San Diego, Aug. 15, 1996.
Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole looks up from the podium as convention center manager Paul Manafort, at right, points out preparations for Dole's acceptance speech in San Diego, Aug. 15, 1996.

When asked whether he considers himself an establishment insider, Manafort was not ready to commit one way or another.

"Depends on who you talk to if I'm part of the establishment or part of the anti-establishment," he told CNN last week. "But the point is that I understand the establishment. I've run campaigns. That doesn't make you the establishment.

"Do I have relationships that go back into the system? Yes. Some of those relationships see me as a bridge to Trump now. They want to be for Trump. They didn't have a way in. They're now talking to me, finding a way in," he said.

In the Trump campaign's release announcing Manafort's hiring, he is described as “volunteering his considerable insight and expertise."

Close to Trump

The addition of Manafort to the team may have been in the works for some time. During an interview with CNN, Manafort said that he has known Trump "since the 1980s."

"We talked about it and he felt I could help him," Manafort said of his decision to come on board.

Those close to the campaign have confirmed that Manafort is working on a volunteer basis, which was noted in the initial release. What that means, they say, is that Manafort has no interest in the campaign's top job: campaign manager.

That role is filled by Corey Lewandowski, the aide who came under fire and prompted calls for Trump to fire him after he was charged with simple battery in connection to an alleged incident involving a female reporter.

Lewandowski's lawyers have said he is "absolutely innocent," and he is expected to enter a not guilty plea. "He is completely confident that he will be exonerated," his lawyers said in a recent statement.

Indeed, the Trump campaign has reiterated that Manafort is working closely with both Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager Michael Glassner, despite reported friction between Manafort and Lewandowski, who have disagreed in a couple of meetings as they begin their new working relationship, according to sources close to the campaign.

"Paul is a great asset and an important addition as we consolidate the tremendous support we have received in the primaries and caucuses, garnering millions more votes than any other candidate," Trump said in the March 29 release announcing the addition of Manafort.

"Paul Manafort, and the team I am building, bring the needed skill sets to ensure that the will of the Republican voters, not the Washington political establishment, determines who will be the nominee for the Republican Party.”

ABC News' John Santucci contributed to this report.