President Trump's "sprawling political operation has raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017 — and set a lot of it on fire," The Associated Press reports. Late Tuesday, the Trump campaign said it entered the final month of the campaign with just $63 million in the bank, far less than the $177 million war chest Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden reported.
Trump and his shared committees with the Republican National Committee, which jointly raised $1.5 billion since the start of 2019, entered October with $251 million on hand, versus $432 million for Biden and his joint committees with the Democrats National Committee, The New York Times reports. What happened to Trump's once-massive cash advantage over Biden?
"They spent their money on unnecessary overhead, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous activity by the campaign staff, and vanity ads," like a $10 million Super Bowl commercial and $1.6 million in the deep-blue Washington, D.C. media market, anti-Trump veteran GOP consultant Mike Murphy told AP. "You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn't have burned through it as stupidly."
The Trump campaign spent significantly more to raise money over the summer than the Biden campaign, and raised significantly less money than Biden.
Other questionable expenditures include $100,000 on Donald Trump Jr.'s book, $39 million in legal and "compliance" fees, and at least $218,000 for Trump surrogates to travel on private jets provided by campaign donors, AP notes. Also, "since 2017, more than $39 million has been paid to firms controlled by [Brad] Parscale, who was ousted as campaign manager over the summer. An additional $319.4 million was paid to American Made Media Consultants, a Delaware limited liability company, whose owners are not publicly disclosed."
Trump's campaign insists it has enough money for the final leg, "almost three times as much as 2016," campaign manager Bill Stepien said Monday. But the campaign has canceled ad buys in Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, shifting resources to Georgia, Arizona, and Florida, Politico reports. Both campaigns are being aided by outside groups — GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson just poured $75 million into a new super PAC helping Trump — but fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg's $100 million investment to defeat Trump in Florida "has thrown Trump into a defensive crouch across the arc of Sunbelt states," Politico says, forcing Trump "to spend big to shore up his position and freeing up Democratic cash to expand the electoral map elsewhere."