A guy who’s worth $10 billion and is “self-funding” is letting his campaign creep along without financial ammo for two whole months? Why, that just can’t be. It would mean that Trump’s prepared to risk the success of an historic, nation-changing political opportunity for the sake of, say, five percent of his net worth. Or, alternately I suppose, that his net worth’s nowhere near what it’s cracked up to be.
Eh, I’m with Trumpers on this one. Who cares if he won’t be running TV ads for two months? The entire national media’s working for him; he can get free airtime to attack Hillary anytime he wants. If he asked for an hour in primetime on CNN to fart the Star-Spangled Banner, they’d preempt Anderson Cooper without a moment’s hesitation. Joel Gehrke makes a good point, though: Didn’t Trump himself claim a few days ago that his joint fundraising operation with the RNC was just a favor he was doing to help them raise money? If so, why does he need to wait until July, after the new joint fundraising entity has been formed, to start buying time for attack ads?
It’s almost as if that was a self-serving lie designed to perpetuate the fiction that he won’t be beholden to establishment fatcat donors.
“They know that they’re not going to have enough money to be on TV in June and probably most of July, until they actually accept the nomination and get RNC funds, so they plan to just use earned media to compete on the airwaves,” one GOP source familiar with Manafort’s comments told the Examiner…
Still, Trump allies have suggested that the RNC is going to take advantage of the real estate mogul. “I don’t think the RNC is 100 percent committed,” a GOP donor told CNN. “If Donald Trump’s seven points down in October, they’re going to put that money toward Senate races and House races.”…
The preemptive fretting about how the RNC plans to spend its money this fall makes some Republicans think that Trump, who has repeatedly insulted Mitt Romney for failing to defeat President Obama in the 2012 presidential election, is preparing to protect his reputation if Hillary Clinton wins.
“He’s going to blame it on the RNC if he doesn’t win in November,” the first source said. “They’re laying that groundwork now.”
Sounds like a pretty healthy relationship that Trump and Reince are building there. I think the race this fall will be close to the end, which will delay the GOP infighting until November, but if the Trump skeptics are right that he’s destined to lose badly once Hillary consolidates her base there’s a chance that the recriminations will begin early, as he slides in the polls. Imagine what that’ll look like in the last few weeks of the campaign. Trump fans will blame everyone but Trump, of course, a notable break with the recent tradition of Republican voters admitting that their nominee was weak and it’s all his fault. #NeverTrumpers will be blamed even though they’re an inconsequential slice of the electorate, as Trumpers never fail to remind them right now. (“We don’t need you! You’re nobodies! Now join with us or Trump will lose!”) The media will be blamed despite having donated $5 billion in free coverage or whatever insane number it’ll end up being by Election Day to Trump’s effort. Most of all, the RNC will be blamed because it’s an eternally convenient establishment scapegoat, never mind that Reince’s crew is destined to be overstretched this year thanks to Trump’s own pitiful failure to build a robust national organization in the primaries.
The bit in the except about the RNC potentially having to make a tough decision about rationing cash if Trump falls far behind is true too, which will further lend itself to scapegoating. Triage decisions on fundraising are a fact of life in election cycles: If a race realistically looks unwinnable by October, the national party may decide that the prudent thing to do is pull money out of it and apply it to other races that are more competitive. The RNC might be forced to choose circa October 10th whether to keep pumping money into Trump or to effectively concede the general election and use the money for a late push to save the Senate. They’re going to be hit with a “dolchstoss” narrative from hardcore Trumpers no matter what they do if he loses, but cutting him loose will make it much worse. Which means, no matter how much Reince may want to believe the GOP is building goodwill with Trump voters by being loyal soldiers for him, he’s kidding himself if Trump ends up losing. In a true worst-case scenario, in fact, I can imagine Trump down six points in late October and setting aside time at his rallies to attack the RNC — the entity running his ground game — for hanging him out to dry. You might read that and laugh at the idea that a presidential nominee would dump on his own national party apparatus in the home stretch of a national campaign. Let me remind you: There’s nothing that comes easier to Trump than dumping on Republicans, even when he has nothing to gain and something to lose by doing so.
One other point worth noting from Gehrke’s piece. A source argues perceptively that Team Trump’s lack of cash means Trump really has no choice but to be as bombastic as ever, at least until his fundraising outfit with the RNC is in business. The more dependent he is on free media to carry his message, the more he has to put on a show in order to hold their attention. If you’re worried that Trump isn’t acting more “presidential,” it’s because, apparently, he literally can’t afford to. Ironic that it’s Manafort, the same guy who’s been reassuring Republicans that Trump will tone it down and become more (giggle) statesmanlike as the campaign progresses, who also had to tell them the campaign is too low on cash to buy ads for the next few months. A more statesmanlike Trump would lose his circus-monkey appeal to the press, which would leave him with no way to compete with Hillary until his campaign’s raised some dough. Manafort’s strategy, essentially, would require Trump to run the sort of campaign that he hasn’t prepared institutionally to run at all. Score one for the Lewandowski approach.
Speaking of Trump and Senate Republicans, here’s Mitch McConnell reassuring CBS News that American institutions are too solid to let President Trump get away with doing anything he wants in office. Why he thinks that, I haven’t the slightest idea. Public faith in government institutions, including and especially Congress, lies in ruins. There’s clearly a hearty appetite on both sides of the aisle for a “strong” executive who’ll impose his will even when the legislature won’t go along. Congress has been reduced to filing lawsuits to check Obama even though they’re supposed to be an equal branch. Given how quick Republican pols have been the past few weeks to roll over for Trump on the theory that Hillary Clinton and her party are worse, there’s no reason to think a Republican House or Senate would put up much of a fight once President Trump started indulging his inner caudillo. Meanwhile, Trump would have an open seat on the Supreme Court and many lower-court vacancies which he could fill with judges who take a, shall we say, forgiving view of executive power. America’s constitutional firewall against power-hungry presidents is weaker than ever, and if you listen to Trump for five minutes there’s every reason to think he’d be more eager than most pols to see how much power he could carry through the firewall in the name of Making America Great Again. And if he tries, rest assured that Mitch McConnell will be back on the Sunday shows, spinning for him all the way.