Democrats fret over Trump cash machine

Democrats fret over Trump cash machine

Democrats say they’re worried about their eventual candidate’s ability to rake in the funds to compete with President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE’s large cash haul.

There’s cause for them to be concerned simply by looking at Trump’s second quarter figures: He was able to pull in more than $108 million in the last three months.


“I know it’s still really early, but if you take a look at what he’s been able to do in terms of fundraising, we’d be nuts not to worry,” one Democratic strategist acknowledged.

“I mean, this isn’t a man who has had the greatest presidency. Quite the opposite, actually,” the strategist said. “And he’s still able to raise that kind of money. That says something.”

Democratic strategist Brad Bannon also said Trump’s latest fundraising haul is “a concern.” 

But at the same time, he said it’s “not a deal breaker for Democrats.”

“The Democratic financial haul is being split in a couple of dozen directions,” Bannon said. “If you combine all the money the Democratic candidates have raised the total is impressive. Once Democrats pick a nominee, all that money will go into one pot and will be large enough for the nominee to be competitive with the president.” 

Still, Democrats wonder if competitive will be good enough, particularly as the party shows signs of being splintered.

In addition, Democrats have worried for months that a long, drawn-out Democratic primary could give Trump and Republicans more time to fundraise and amass large amounts of money for what is expected to be a grueling general election.

On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee and its “Unity Fund” sent out a fundraising email from Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden pushes into Trump territory The Hill's Campaign Report: One week from Election Day | Biden looks to expand map | Trump trails narrowly in Florida, Arizona The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands MORE soliciting donations from supporters and highlighting the danger of Trump’s stuffed coffers.

“Donald Trump and the [Republican National Committee] amassed $108 million last quarter,” the email from Harris says. “Give me a second to explain what that really means. … While I’m traveling across the country speaking directly with voters about the issues that impact all of us, Trump and his team are spending that money assembling an impressive ground game that will be at work long before we even have a Democratic nominee. 

“We have a real fight ahead of us,” Harris said in the email.

In February, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls Senate Democrats want hearing on Pentagon vaccine effort MORE (D-Mass.) said she would abandon her long-standing rule of not hosting high-dollar fundraisers should she win the nomination, given Trump’s expected fundraising prowess.

“We’ll be up against a Republican machine that will be hell-bent on keeping the White House,” Warren wrote in a Medium post. “They will have PACs and Super PACs and too many special interest groups to count, and we will do what is necessary to match them financially.”

Democrats say that’s a smart move, considering the financial ammunition Trump will have in the general election.

“I’ve never been a big fan of running a campaign with one hand tied behind your back,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, who said Warren and others would have a good chance of winning especially because of the strength of their small-dollar donations.

Democratic strategist Eddie Vale added that while Trump is scoring big checks, most of those are “one-time finite gifts.”

“If you have a big and supportive small donor list like [Sen.] Bernie [Sanders (I-Vt.)] and Warren, you will keep getting those donations again and again and again, and those totals can equal or even surpass what Trump is getting from his lobbyist fundraisers.”

In 2016, Donald Trump was outspent by Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGorsuch rejects Minnesota Republican's request to delay House race Biden leads Trump by 6 points in Nevada: poll The Memo: Women could cost Trump reelection MORE by roughly $235 million. But while she spent more on paid media, Trump ran circles around her in earned media, Bannon said.

“His skill in commanding media coverage of his campaign neutralized Clinton’s financial advantage,” he said. “Lots of money helps but the priority for the Democratic nominee will be to make the media coverage work for her or him, not the president. 

“In a presidential race, voters react more to media coverage than they do the paid ads,” Bannon said.

But even financially, Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committeeman and Democratic donor, said he feels confident his party can still pull it off against Trump.

“Is he going to have more money? Of course, he’s going to have more money,” Zimmerman said. “But last time I checked, it’s not the most money that wins elections, it’s the most electoral votes.”

In the midterms, Zimmerman pointed out, many Democratic candidates won their races because of small-dollar donors and “the incredible energy” behind the campaigns. 

“That will happen again in 2020. There’s not enough money in Donald Trump’s world that can cover up or change the administration’s record of incompetence, racism and corruption,” he said.