Trump asks team to trim back transition efforts, focus on race: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Trailing in opinion polls, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has asked his campaign to cut back on work identifying candidates for key jobs in his would-be administration and focus instead on bolstering his chances on Election Day, according to two people familiar with the campaign’s inner workings.

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump rallies with supporters at the Million Air Orlando airplane hangar in Sanford, Florida, U.S. October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

After months of bitter battling, Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has a commanding lead in the race to win the Electoral College and claim the U.S. presidency on Nov. 8, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project results released on Saturday, which mirror other national polls.

People working on Trump’s White House transition, which is led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, have been asked by Trump to narrow down those efforts and refocus on the race, the sources, who asked not to be identified, said Tuesday.

They have, as a result, largely set aside efforts to identify candidates for key Cabinet positions, but are continuing work to fill lower-level jobs, such as Securities and Exchange Commission general counsel, that would allow Trump to begin basic work on his agenda if he won on Nov. 8, without worrying about winning political battles first.

Members of the transition team are also avoiding providing Trump with updates on the transition work to allow him and the campaign to focus the core of its efforts on improving his chances of winning the election, the sources said.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sources did not say when Trump asked his campaign to reduce its transition work. But one of the two sources said that Christie has spent twice as much time helping Trump prepare for the three presidential debates, which occurred between Sept. 26 and Oct. 19, as he had on the transition work.

A spokesman for Christie declined to comment.

A third source familiar with the campaign, who also asked not to be named, said a senior Trump official has been contacting Wall Street tycoons and other wealthy Republicans for recommendations on lower-level positions.

That source said the Trump team has opened up its hiring search far beyond his core group of supporters and is even willing to consider people who have criticized the brash New York businessman.

Reporting by Emily Flitter; editing by Jonathan Oatis