Donald Trump's new Georgia hand was Mitt Romney's '08 state director

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump's Georgia campaign will be run by Brandon Phillips, a consultant with extensive ties to the state GOP establishment.

Phillips replaces Seth Weathers, who was known for running insurgent campaigns and parted ways with Trump after less than two months. Phillips is a former executive director of the Fulton County Republican Party and was Mitt Romney's state director in Georgia in 2008 -- the year Romney was trying to run to John McCain's right and both of them were beaten in Georgia by Mike Huckabee.

Last year Phillips, a southwest Georgia native, worked on the congressional campaign of Mike Collins, the trucking company executive who was the establishment-tied choice in a losing GOP runoff effort against now-Rep. Jody Hice.

Phillips said in an email that he will be based in Atlanta and is working to open a campaign office soon.

Trump announced Phillips' appointment in a press release along with new staffers in Ohio and Oklahoma, and on the same day as he announced submitting 15,000 signatures to qualify for the notoriously difficult Virginia primary ballot. All of those states vote in March, as Trump signals that he is in this for the long haul.

Said Trump in a press release:

"While other candidates are being forced to scale back on their staffs or consider dropping out of the race, we are assembling an extensive campaign team to harness the tremendous enthusiasm we are receiving from proud Americans across the country. I will secure our border, take care of our veterans, and bring jobs back from overseas. We will continue to grow our incredible team and share my vision to Make America Great Again!"

In other Trump news, the Washington Post reports that he is going it alone in negotiating the parameters of future GOP debates -- a major test of his ratings leverage:

Donald Trump and his advisers have decided to work directly with television executives and take a lead role in negotiating the format and content of primary debates, which have become highly watched and crucial events in the 2016 race, according to Republicans familiar with their plans.

Trump will reject a joint letter to television network hosts regarding upcoming primary debates drafted Sunday at a private gathering of operatives from at least 11 presidential campaigns, the Republicans said.

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