Report: Trump campaign all but ends big-money fundraising operations, leaving the RNC in the lurch; Update: Retreat?

Why spend the final few weeks schmoozing with fatcats, the campaign insists, when Trump and his top surrogates could spend the time holding rallies and events instead? The answer: Because the RNC, which, by the way, is running Trump’s ground game and desperately trying to keep downballot Republicans afloat, needs the money from those fatcats to keep things humming along. Trump’s own campaign might be able to get by on money raised through small donations online, but the RNC gets only a small cut of those funds. Reince Priebus and company are going to have to go begging donors for money now without help from the nominee.

If you were worried that Trump would spend the home stretch of the election thinking about himself rather than the party at large, yep, you were right to worry:

Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman, said in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday that Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the party and the campaign, held its last formal fundraiser on Oct. 19. The luncheon was in Las Vegas on the day of the final presidential debate…

Mnuchin said the Trump campaign decided to keep the candidate’s final weeks focused on taking his message to the voters in person rather than on raising money. There may be a handful of events in coming days featuring Trump surrogates, including his son Donald Jr., according to people familiar with the internal discussions. But Mnuchin said “there is virtually nothing planned.”…

Mnuchin said Trump does not need high-dollar fundraisers because his campaign is being buoyed by online donations, which he said are on track to hit a new record in October…

[T]he RNC gets only 20 percent of the money that Trump raises online in conjunction with the party, while the vast majority of the big checks contributed to Trump Victory are routed to the party.

Clinton’s holding the last event for her own joint fundraising committee that she’ll personally attend tonight in Miami but the committee will keep going with other big-name surrogates like Tim Kaine participating over the last few weeks. Trump’s committee, it sounds like, is more or less done. The best spin you can put on that is that he really does believe he has a chance to pull the upset next month but thinks it’ll take an all-hands-on-deck effort from his entire team to get there, so much so that they simply can’t spare time to help the party anymore. The worst spin you can put on it is that he believes, barring a miracle, that the race is over and therefore he’s not devoting any more energy to helping a party that he always viewed as little more than a vehicle for his personal ambitions, not a congregation of ideological comrades-in-arms. Either way, the RNC running low on funds in the final week could be a gamechanger in close races:

One Republican strategist is calling for retaliation:

The RNC and the state parties could make up the cash shortfall (at least partially) by repurposing funds that have been earmarked for Trump and applying them to Senate and House races instead. But I doubt it’ll happen. Remember, this is a hostage situation. If the party tries to free itself from Trump, he could blow the whole thing up by telling his supporters to stay home and not bother with a rigged election. (He may do that anyway if the polls get worse, so that he can save face afterwards. “I didn’t lose, I quit.”) That would probably be enough to sink the GOP downballot. They need his voters out there, and if the price of that is continuing to fund his campaign even after he’s left them high and dry, then so be it. The party made a deal with a devil who doesn’t share its common interests. Now they’re stuck seeing that deal through.

By the way, if you want a sign of how confident Clinton is feeling these days, here’s a surprisingly (well, not really) Trump-y soundbite from her rally today in Florida — held before the news broke about Team Trump effectively abandoning the RNC:

Clinton told a rally in Florida, one of the battleground states where the election is likely to be decided, that Democrats cannot afford to slacken.

“I hope you will come out and vote because it’s going to be a close election. Pay no attention to the polls. Don’t forget, don’t get complacent, because we’ve got to turn people out,” she said in Coconut Creek, standing in front of a large sign reading “Vote Early.”

There are two types of candidates who tell their voters to ignore the polls. One is the candidate who knows he’s down big and worries that his fans will feel demoralized and therefore disinclined to turn out. The other is the candidate who knows he’s up big and worries that his fans will feel the election’s a foregone conclusion and therefore disinclined to turn out. Guess which candidate is which in the current election. Here’s a hint.

Speaking of baffling strategic plays, your exit question: Trump doesn’t have time to meet with major donors to help congressional Republicans but he does have time for a grand-opening for his hotel in Washington D.C. tomorrow?

Update: Note that WaPo’s source for the report above isn’t anonymous, and it isn’t some lower-rung staffer. It’s Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s finance chair. He was under the impression that the joint committee is essentially done with major events. Other fundraisers within the campaign are under a different impression:

Why are Mnuchin and Eisenberg on different pages? Is the campaign scrambling suddenly to put together more events because of the clamor over the WaPo story?

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