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Politics & Policy

Trump’s Running a Performance Art Tour, Not a Presidential Campaign

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Trump’s Running a Performance Art Tour, Not a Presidential Campaign

It’s insane. The Republican Party is trying to win a presidential campaign with a candidate who refuses to run a presidential campaign.

The guy who bragged he was worth $10 billion let the FEC know his campaign has less than $2 million in the bank:

Trump began June with just $1.3 million in cash on hand, a figure more typical for a campaign for the House of Representatives than the White House. He trailed Hillary Clinton, who raised more than $28 million in May, by more than $41 million, according to reports filed late Monday night with the Federal Election Commission.

In a first for a major party nominee, Mr. Trump has suggested he will leave the crucial task of field organizing in swing states to the Republican National Committee, which typically relies on the party’s nominee to help fund, direct and staff national Republican political efforts. His decision threatens to leave the party with significant shortfalls of money and manpower: On Monday, the party reported raising $13 million during May, about a third of the money it raised in May 2012, when Mitt Romney led the ticket.

…Fund-raising efforts for Mr. Trump have been hampered by the candidate’s own erratic public comments. He has repeatedly said he will pay for his own campaign even as his volunteers fan out around the country to solicit six-figure checks, confusing allies and potential donors alike.

“Two days ago, he said, ‘I may fund it myself,’” Mr. Rollins said. “Donors are all being cautious about what’s going to happen here.”

Is it as simple as Trump’s ego won’t let him admit that his campaign needs money from someone else? Or is it that donors fear their money will end up being spent on a Trump company… and thus eventually make its way into Trump’s pockets?

He managed to shell out $6.7 million last month, including more than $1 million in payments to Trump companies or to reimburse his family for travel expenses.

It’s not like this question wasn’t raised before…

As Trump brags about “self-funding” his surging Republican bid, he has been lending — rather than giving — money to his campaign. That has raised the question of whether his self-funding pledge has strings attached. Would he ever raise donor money to pay himself back?

Not a chance, says campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

“He is not going to repay himself,” Lewandowski said in an interview this week with The Associated Press.

Let’s just ask Lewandowski today if… wait, wait, never mind.

If this factoid is true, then maybe, just maybe, the Trump campaign is about to stop looking like a performance tour:

Lewandowski also reassured the sometimes tight-fisted billionaire, who initially pledged to self-fund his campaign, that it wasn’t necessary to invest serious money in the traditional tools of presidential campaigning, such as polling, voter files, analytics and major advertising campaigns. Instead, Lewandowski’s approach was to hire a tiny staff composed mostly of allies from his past jobs and to “let Trump be Trump.”

As noted yesterday, now that we know Ivanka Trump is the one who can force a change on the campaign, all we need is for Ivanka to say “Dad, we need to change the candidate.”

Maybe television advertising in June doesn’t make too much of a difference; maybe we have two candidates who are too well-known and well-defined for ads to make a difference. But as is, Trump is completely conceding the airwaves, at least during commercial breaks.

The presumptive GOP nominee is being massively outspent on television airwaves: Between Tuesday and Election Day, Trump has reserved zero dollars in television advertising, compared to $117 million from Hillary Clinton and her allies, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.

… In the first week of the general election, Clinton and her super PAC ran nearly 4,000 more spots on broadcast and national cable TV than Trump and his allies, according to the Kantar Media data.

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