Veteran GOP operative joins team Trump 2012

Jeff Winkler Contributor
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TV star Donald Trump may be assisted in his potential 2012 presidential candidacy by a veteran political operative who knows how to do the same with movie stars.

Virginia GOP operative Jay Kenneth Klinge, who helped Reagan in 1980, has offered his services to Trump because there are only “one or two” other presidential hopefuls he sees as “good” Republican candidates.

“I’ve looked around. There are one or two others that I think are good people too but he’s out there moving around,” Klinge told The Daily Caller. “So I’ll see if I can’t be helpful.”

Those “one or two” are presidential hopefuls Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, whom Klinge has known “for 37 years” and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, “who was a pup at the time.”

“Trump attracted me because he is out there saying things that obviously a lot of American must like,” Klinge told TheDC. “At the end of the day, I am a Republican. I’d like to see us have a new President.”

Klinge assisted in organizing Reagan’s campaign during the Iowa caucus and served under Lee Altwater, directing the entire Southern Region operations, according to a press release. He will join the “Draft Trump 2012 Committee,” leading (potential!) efforts in Virginia as the committee’s “Southern Regional Director … but will also make key contacts” in Iowa, according to a press release.

Klinge was encouraged to help out by a “close friend” and Trump enthusiast who worked with Klinge on the Reagan campaign. The veteran politico only agreed, however, after seeing an outpouring of support from would-be voters.

“He’s obviously attracted support and surprised a lot of people,”Klinge told TheDC. “One thing I’ve learned after almost 50 years of politics is that the people tell you how well you’re doing.”

Indeed, a rally hosted by Trump this past Saturday swelled to over 3,000 people and he is hosting an event in Nevada on April 28 as well as the GOP’s Lincoln Dinner in Iowa this summer. Trump now leads the next potential Republican candidates, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, by as much as 9 and 11 percent in a recent PPP survey, respectively.

With the addition of Klinge, the  maybe-maybe-not Trump campaign also boasts a “Western States Coordinator” in James Stockdale, who also served on Reagan’s campaign. Still, Klinge said it’s too early to do any seriously heavy lifting.

You know, it’s a pretty thin field so far. It’s not like there are 18 people or even 10 people out there running around trying to get votes,” said Klinge. “I’ve always said that somebody can beat nobody anytime.”

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