As with most important decisions in Donald Trump's campaign, when it comes to picking Trump a candidate for vice president, Corey Lewandowski is in charge.
For the past week, the presumptive Republican nominee's inner circle has looked to Lewandowski, Trump's loyal campaign manager, to start the search and screen for potential running mates, anonymous sources told the Washington Post Tuesday.
This is the inner circle that once included former presidential candidate turned Trump endorser Ben Carson, who, after suggesting possible names for the ticket, has now stepped away from the search-and-screen process.
"What Trump wanted from Carson were names of who he would recommend for a potential candidate. He was among several other people making recommendations," Carson's business manager, Armstrong Williams, told the Daily Beast. "Once those names were submitted, they decided to have [Corey] Lewandowski head up."
It's a job usually managed by a lawyer – which Lewandowski is not – but not unfit for a man who has increasingly become Trump's closest confidant.
Six months ago, Lewandowski was a virtual unknown; other than a few TV appearances for his boss, Lewandowski, a longtime political operative, had kept relatively quiet in Trump's notably cacophonous presidential campaign.
Now his name has become more familiar: He was charged with battery (the charges were eventually dropped) after a reporter claimed he physically assaulted her at a Trump campaign rally in Florida.
Lewandowski and the Trump campaign rebuffed Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields's allegations and managed to come out unscathed. Rather, Breitbart, the conservative and Trump-friendly news outlet, spiraled into chaos (Michelle Fields resigned, along with editor at large Ben Shapiro).
But since the incident, more has come out about Lewandowski, including his temperament in past positions and his bigger role in the Trump candidacy as one of New Hampshire's Trump delegates.
Who is Trump's campaign manager?
Until Trump, Lewandowski had led a rather banal political career as far as Republican operatives go.
In the past, Lewandowski, 41, has worked for the Republican National Committee, assisted former Ohio Rep. Bob Ney (the man who mandated french fries be renamed "freedom fries" on congressional food service menus), and headed a failed US Senate reelection campaign for Robert Smith (the man who stabbed a plastic doll on the Senate floor to take a stand against abortion).
For nearly seven years he worked for Americans for Prosperity, a group sponsored by key conservative figures Charles G. and David H. Koch, where he served as a regional director and managed their voter registration program, which came under investigation in 2014 for sending out misleading mailers to voters.
Lewandowski maintains he left AFP on his own accord, but according to reporting from Politico, it became clear that his involvement with the voter registration mess helped nudge him toward the exit.
But in June 2015, Lewandowski officially went to the Trump campaign — making a hard turn toward the anti-establishment strain of the party.
Even so, the man who brought Trump and Lewandowski together, Citizens United president David Bossie, told the New York Times that Lewandowski "is as antiestablishment as Mr. Trump."
Lewandowski has a reputation for being tough
Since the incident with Fields, multiple news outlets took a stab at uncovering the true Lewandowski, who, according to former colleagues, is known for his aggressive and quick temper.
The Wall Street Journal captured this essence in an introduction to a profile of him:
In a stairwell behind the stage as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at a packed rally recently, campaign manager Corey R. Lewandowski lashed out at his New Hampshire state director.
"My boss is working 20-hour days; you’re not," Mr. Lewandowski said. "You’re not meeting any of your metrics with the primary three weeks away."
In the motorcade afterward, Mr. Lewandowski called a longtime aide supervising another state: "Fly here tonight and take over."
Politico found that Lewandowski has long been accused of bullying, including once calling a female colleague at AFP the c-word in front of other employees. Trump's decision to bow out of the Conservative Political Action Conference followed a "profanity-laced tirade" from Lewandowski when organizers insisted Trump's speech be accompanied by a Q&A session.
Fox News called out Lewandowski for threatening Megyn Kelly during Trump's months-long feud with the debate moderator.
Lewandowski lets Trump be Trump
From the start of the campaign it has become clear that being Trump works best for Trump, and that is how Lewandowski operates.
"Let Trump be Trump" has been written on his office whiteboard since the start of the presidential bid, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Trump writes (or doesn't write) his own speeches, and has made a show of saying what is on his mind. On the Trump campaign trail, Lewandowski has let this strategy play out. He goes on TV to clarify Trump's statements, but for the most part, like Trump's campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks, he and his team stand back.
Lewandowski’s most important public move will probably come this summer at the Republican National Convention, where he is one of the 11 delegates for New Hampshire, according to a list the Trump campaign turned over to the New York Times on February 26.
He will be playing double duty at the convention, voting for his candidate as well as trying to extinguish the "Stop Trump" flames that have been put forward by the Republican establishment.
Lewandowski perfectly exemplifies Trump's campaign strategy
In any other presidential campaign, the allegations against Lewandowski would likely have cost him his job. (Remember, Ted Cruz fired his top spokesperson for spreading a false story about Marco Rubio in late February.)
Rubio commented on the incident with Fields, the Breitbart reporter, on conservative radio host Mike Gallagher's show last Sunday, calling it a campaign-ending incident.
"If my campaign manager had done that, my campaign would be over," Rubio said. "He would have had to resign, and my campaign may be over. I would have had to quit that very day,"
But when Trump won in Florida, Lewandowski was right in front, representing an undeniable vote of confidence by Trump in his man. Trump himself has managed to grow his support despite running on a platform of, by any other measure, political gaffes or career-ending political moves.
And Lewandowski, according to Politico, reportedly thinks he is on his way to becoming the next White House chief of staff. First, he just has to help pick the veep.