That’s the headline from the third quarter campaign filings, summarized here. R. J. Lehmann of R Street writes:
The Trump campaign ended the third quarter with $254,772.88 of cash on-hand, which is about 48 percent less than the $487,736.16 with which it started the quarter. Trump is therefore spending money at a faster clip than he’s raising it. Moreover, the campaign also has incurred more than $1.8 million of debts and obligations – no doubt, many of them to Trump himself (he’s billed the campaign $700,000 for the use of his jet). That leaves the campaign with negative cash, which should be a familiar position for the real estate magnate whose companies have declared bankruptcy four times.
The seven candidates with the most cash on hand are, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Carly Fiorina.
While it isn’t surprising that Trump isn’t on that list – he has declined to raise money – it is striking that the Trump campaign is in debt. Doesn’t that tarnish the “super billionaire” brand and the big boast about not being beholden to anyone? Why is the campaign in debt? Can’t he write a check?
Which raises another question that has been lingering: Can Trump fund a presidential campaign out of his own funds? As Lehmann notes, he hasn’t had to spend too much money so far because he’s getting so much free media. Some have questioned whether he’s really as rich as he claims. But let’s say he is. Does he have liquid assets, or is it mostly tied up in real estate? If he’s forced to sell something quickly to get ready cash, he might have to do so at fire sale prices. “The Art of the Deal” indeed.