“How Trump’s Billion Dollar Campaign Lost Its Cash Advantage”

NYT:

Five months later, Mr. Trump’s financial supremacy has evaporated. Of the $1.1 billon his campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent. Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election, according to Republican officials briefed on the matter.

Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager, liked to call Mr. Trump’s re-election war machine an “unstoppable juggernaut.” But interviews with more than a dozen current and former campaign aides and Trump allies, and a review of thousands of items in federal campaign filings, show that the president’s campaign and the R.N.C. developed some profligate habits as they burned through hundreds of millions of dollars. Since Bill Stepien replaced Mr. Parscale in July, the campaign has imposed a series of belt-tightening measures that have reshaped initiatives, including hiring practices, travel and the advertising budget.

Under Mr. Parscale, more than $350 million — almost half of the $800 million spent — went to fund-raising operations, as no expense was spared in finding new donors online. The campaign assembled a big and well-paid staff and housed the team at a cavernous, well-appointed office in the Virginia suburbs; outsize legal bills were treated as campaign costs; and more than $100 million was spent on a television advertising blitz before the party convention, the point when most of the electorate historically begins to pay close attention to the race.

Among the splashiest and perhaps most questionable purchase was for Super Bowl ads that cost $11 million — more than the campaign has spent on TV in some top battleground states — a vanity splurge that allowed Mr. Trump to match the billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg’s buy for the big game.

There was also a cascade of smaller choices that added up: The campaign hired a coterie of highly paid consultants (Mr. Trump’s former bodyguard and White House aide has been paid more than $500,000 by the R.N.C. since late 2017); spent $156,000 for planes to pull aerial banners in recent months; and paid nearly $110,000 to Yondr, a company that makes magnetic pouches used to store cellphones during fund-raisers so that donors could not secretly record Mr. Trump and leak his remarks.

Some people familiar with the expenses noted that Mr. Parscale had a car and driver, an unusual expense for a campaign manager. Mr. Trump has told people gleefully that Mr. Stepien took a pay cut when the president gave him the job.

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