Donald Trump Starts Summer Push With Crippling Money Deficit
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and RACHEL SHOREYJUNE 20, 2016
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Donald J. Trump at a campaign event in Dallas last week. Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times
Donald J. Trump enters the general election campaign laboring under the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history, placing both his candidacy and his party in political peril.
Mr. 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, and trailed Hillary Clinton by more than $41 million, according to reports filed late Monday night with the Federal Election Commission. He has a staff of around 70 people — compared with nearly 700 for Mrs. Clinton — suggesting only the barest effort toward preparing to contest swing states this fall. And he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday, after concerns among allies and donors about his ability to run a competitive race.
The Trump campaign has not aired a television advertisement since he effectively secured the nomination in May and has not booked any advertising for the summer or fall. Mrs. Clinton and her allies spent nearly $26 million on advertising in June alone, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, pummeling Mr. Trump over his temperament, his statements and his mocking of a disabled reporter. The only sustained reply, aside from Mr. Trump’s gibes at rallies and on Twitter, has come from a pair of groups that spent less than $2 million combined.
Mr. Trump’s fund-raising for May reflects his lag in assembling the core of a national finance team. In the same month that he clinched the Republican nomination, Mr. Trump raised just $3.1 million and was forced to lend himself $2 million to meet costs. Some invitations to Trump fund-raising events have featured the same short list of national Republican finance volunteers regardless of what city the event is held in, suggesting Mr. Trump has had some trouble lining up local co-hosts.
A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not respond to an inquiry about the campaign’s spending plans. During an interview on Monday on CNN, Mr. Lewandowski defended the candidate’s bare-bones approach.
“We are leaner, meaner, more efficient, more effective. Get bigger crowds. Get better coverage,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “If this was the business world, people would be commending Mr. Trump for the way he’s run this campaign.”
But the shortfall is leaving Mr. Trump extraordinarily dependent on the Republican National Committee, which has seen record fund-raising this campaign cycle and, long before Mr. Trump even declared his upstart candidacy, had begun investing heavily in a long-range plan to bolster the party’s technical and organizational capacity.
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