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Behind Trump’s effort to crush a top Republican strategist

“It’s an open secret that candidates who want to stay on President Trump’s good side should not hire Axiom,” said one of the four people, an influential Republican strategist who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “They are enemy No. 1.”

The attempt to isolate Roe highlights the lengths to which Trump will go to enforce loyalty — and punish disloyalty — to him within the GOP. The former president is known to keep close tabs on which elected officials have endorsed him, how strongly they’ve expressed support and whether they stuck by him during low points.

Several weeks after he helped elect Glenn Youngkin governor of Virginia in November 2021, Roe traveled to Mar-a-Lago and talked to Trump,
who reportedly considered hiring him to run his presidential campaign. But Trump decided against it after advisers urged him not to. Roe then went to work for DeSantis in March 2023.

After Roe left Never Back Down last month, Trump posted on Truth Social: “Jeff Roe is out — GAME OVER for DeSanctimonious.” Top Trump adviser Chris LaCivita
has also publicly attacked Roe on social media, saying that Roe should “stay the hell away from the US Senate” because “we need to win a few seats next year.” The two also
tangled in August on X
over their records in various races.

At a campaign event in Iowa last week, Donald Trump Jr. accused Roe of trying to prolong the Republican primary so he could enrich himself at the expense of the DeSantis campaign.

It’s unclear which candidates Trump has urged to not hire Roe, and Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung declined to comment.

Roe also declined to comment. But Axiom Strategies president Rob Phillips said in a statement that his firm “has elected more conservatives to office than any other firm in the nation. Answering President Trump’s call for unity on Monday night, we are going to change this country for the better by electing conservatives.” In his victory speech in Iowa this week, Trump called for Americans to come together.

The Trump War Room X account
also recently attacked another senior employee of Axiom and Never Back Down alum, Erin Perrine, after she appeared on Fox Business with a chyron that identified her former job as the Trump campaign communications director in 2020. (Frequent cable news guests such as Perrine usually don’t select their own chyrons for their TV appearances.)

“Look at this grifter @ErinMPerrine trying to use her previous Trump association to get on TV,” the account tweeted. “MAGA disowns her and anyone else that associates/works with her. TRAITOR!”

The tweet went viral in Washington Republican circles since political staffers usually aren’t targeted in this way.

Axiom is the country’s largest Republican political consulting firm. It was founded in 2005 and has nearly 400 employees across almost 20 individual firms that it owns as subsidiaries, according to Axiom. This cycle, the firm says it’s working for almost 500 statewide and down ballot candidates, including 100 current Republican House members or other GOP candidates for House seats, and almost a dozen candidates for Senate.

“Team Trump has made clear that hiring Jeff Roe is the fastest way for a candidate to get President Trump to endorse their opponent,” said a Republican strategist familiar with the Trump camp’s decision to target Roe. “That is of great concern for candidates considering hiring Roe. If President Trump endorses your opponent, your odds go way down in a primary.”

LaCivita and Trump campaign manager Susie Wiles have
reportedly told a number of House Republicans that Roe should not work for Speaker Mike Johnson’s political operation even though Johnson uses Jason Hebert, whose firm is owned by Axiom, as a political adviser.

Meridith McGraw contributed to this report.

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