The New York Times, in a story published Tuesday, reports former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes has begun helping Donald Trump prepare for his upcoming debates with Hillary Clinton.
The debates are seen as critical for Trump in reversing a slump in the Republican’s standing in the polls ahead of Election Day:
Mr. Ailes is aiding Mr. Trump’s team as it turns its attention to the first debate with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, on Sept. 26 on Long Island, according to three people briefed on the move, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Two of them said that Mr. Ailes’s role could extend beyond the debates, which Mr. Trump’s advisers see as crucial to vaulting him back into strong contention for the presidency after a series of self-inflicted wounds that have eroded his standing in public opinion polls.
The Hollywood Reporter, however, quotes the campaign as saying Ailes is not assisting Trump:
“He is not advising Mr. Trump or helping with debate prep. They are longtime friends, but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign,” Hope Hicks, Trump campaign spokeswoman told The Hollywood Reporter.
Trump remained a strong defender of Ailes in the aftermath of the sexual harassment scandal that began with a lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson. “He’s been a friend of mine for a long time,” Trump said last month. “And I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them.” In that interview, with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Trump hinted Ailes might return to his roots in politics, saying “a lot of people are thinking he’s going to run my campaign.”