Meet Corey Lewandowski, the Granite Stater Running Donald Trump's Campaign

Jul 27, 2015

Corey Lewandowski of Americans for Prosperity - New Hampshire opens the Taxpayer Tea Party rally in Concord, April 15, 2011.
Credit Brady Carlson/NHPR

As brash businessman Donald Trump continues his surprising surge in the national presidential polls, behind the scenes, there’s a well-known GOP operative from New Hampshire pulling the strings.

Corey Lewandowski was the director of the conservative Americans for Prosperity here in the Granite State.

He’s now campaign manager for Donald Trump.

Ben Schreckinger, a reporter for Politico who recently profiled Corey Lewandowski, joined NHPR's Morning Edition.

  How did these two end up together?

The Citizens United and the New Hampshire chapter of Americans for Prosperity held a Freedom Summit last April in New Hampshire. It was sort of the first cattle call of the Republican nominating process. Rand Paul was there, Ted Cruz was there, and Donald Trump was there. That’s how the two met. And in January, Lewandowski, who had been the state director for AFP, joined up with Trump.

One theme of your story is how Corey Lewandowski is actually a lot like his new boss. How so?

For one thing, he’s making a lot of money off of this. He’s making $20,000 a month, according to the Trump campaign’s FEC disclosures. And from what I hear, in New Hampshire, Lewandowski had a knack for the spectacle or publicity stunt. The story that a couple of people told me was at the AFP’s Tax Day rally in 2010, he pulled a cardboard cutout of then Gov. John Lynch onto the steps of the Statehouse in Concord and started debating the cardboard cutout, much to the delight of the people who had gathered there. He’s also like Trump in that he’s a bomb thrower. He was not afraid to alienate the Republican party in New Hampshire, just as Trump is doing nationally right now.

Donald Trump’s campaign has been marked by controversial statements and bizarre moments. Last week, for example, Trump gave out Senator Lindsey Graham’s phone number. Is that the kind of campaign stunt that has Lewandowski’s finger prints on it? It certainly got people’s attention and grabbed headlines.

I wouldn’t speculate that Lewandowski set that up, or any of Trump’s political stunts. I do think that Trump has his own talent for these things. They may be kindred spirits in that way, but Trump really doesn’t need any help in coming up with ways to create publicity stunts.

My understanding of Lewandowski’s role in the campaign is that he executes. He’s doing the blocking and the tackling. He’s making sure that Trump gets to events on time. He may be helping Trump come up with some of these things, but he’s more of a logistics guys in this current role, but who happens to share a love for the attention-getting stunt.

Lewandowski still lives here in the Granite State. For your story, you spoke with several Republican activists in New Hampshire about Lewandowski’s time here. What did they have to say about him working for Trump and his political future?

Working for Trump can be kind of a black mark on a resume in political circles. Some of these activists were saying basically that Trump didn’t have a great pool to fish from because there are so many Republican candidates running and so many of them, especially six months ago, seemed to have a much better chance at the nomination. Because Trump is such a bomb thrower and because he’s perceived not as a real candidate and more as a provocateur that’s hurting the party, it’s possible that Lewandowski will be unwelcome in other political operations going forward. Of course, if Trump surprises us all and storms to the presidency, then maybe that doesn’t matter so much to Lewandowski.