Presidential races

Trump’s $1.3 million cash crunch

Donald Trump’s campaign finished May with just $1.3 million in the bank, a strikingly low figure for a presumptive presidential nominee.

Trump raised just $3.1 million for his campaign in May, compared to the $26.4 million raised by presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. 

Trump’s figures are more in line with a Senate or House candidate than a presidential nominee and would put him behind not only Clinton but Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, who were runners-up in their respective primaries. 

Clinton, in comparison, finished May with $42.5 million cash on hand. Clinton has raised $238.2 million over the entire campaign — nearly quadruple Trump’s largely self-funded $64.6 million.

{mosads}Trump revealed his finances in a report to the Federal Election Commission delivered Monday night.

On Tuesday morning, he brushed off suggestions of trouble.

“I understand money better than anybody,” Trump said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” in which he blamed some of his problems on his party.

On “Fox and Friends,” Trump said he helped bring in “about $12 million” for the Republican Party in a fundraising trip through Texas, Nevada and Arizona.

Trump’s money problems, however, are sure to add to concerns in the GOP about whether he can compete with Clinton. 

On Monday, Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, a public acknowledgement of problems in his operation.

Before the FEC report was released, Trump and his top lieutenants had been publicly projecting confidence and insisting they don’t need as much money as Clinton does to win. 

“500 is the number,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and Trump fundraiser, in an email to The Hill last week.

Scaramucci meant $500 million, which is less than half of what the Clinton forces are expecting to raise for the general election. 

“I must be living outside the bubble,” Scaramucci added. “He will get enough and beat her in the fall.”

Trump has boasted — accurately — that he won the Republican primary by spending less than his opponents. 

And since pivoting into general election mode, Trump and his allies have pitched themselves as the leaner, more efficient alternative to Clinton. 

Trump’s campaign had roughly 70 employees on the payroll in the last reporting cycle, while Clinton has more than 700. And Trump — a master manipulator of the cable news cycle — claims that with his unparalleled ability to command media attention he doesn’t need to spend as much as Clinton does on commercials.

But that narrative is wearing on some key members of Trump’s campaign team, including his top finance chiefs, who are getting nervous about the current state of the campaign. 

They are watching Clinton and her super-PAC book some $40 million worth of unanswered advertising in swing states such as Ohio, Florida and Nevada. 

And they are wondering when Trump himself will get serious about courting the billionaire GOP donors he needs to fund his campaign. He’s charming in rooms with donors, but he doesn’t do the follow-up schmoozing on the phone that’s required to bring in large checks.

In an interview with The Hill on Monday morning, a top Trump fundraiser said he and his colleagues had reached a point of deep frustration at the state of the campaign’s money operation. 

“Where is the small dollar fundraising? It’s not happening so far as I can tell,” the source said, adding that they were being forced to chase small dollars because a number of high-net-worth donors were deciding not to support Trump.

The RNC together with the Trump campaign has formed a joint committee that has been raising millions in recent retreats, but most of that money goes to the national party. 

Trump ultimately benefits from some of that money because it pays for the RNC’s field team of some 500 staff members and its data operations, but by outsourcing much of his operation, Trump leaves himself vulnerable to other people’s decisions if his campaign falls off the rails.

Trump, who claims he is worth $10 billion, insists he’ll fund himself if the Republican Party abandons him, but no senior person on his campaign who has spoken to The Hill believes he’ll make good on that promise. 

The candidate has loaned his campaign some $46 million so far, including $2.2 million in May. And it rang true to many when he said during the primary campaign that he didn’t want to sell any of his buildings to fund a vastly more expensive general election. 

What’s left is a campaign fundraising apparatus that more closely resembles a mid-tier Senate or House campaign than that of a presidential nominee. 

Currently, the top 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives all have more cash on hand than Trump, according to the non-partisan campaign finance website OpenSecrets.

This story was updated at 9:10 a.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Ted Cruz

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