The Trump campaign has told some high-level GOP staffers that it wont have a lot of money to defend itself from attacks over the next few months, according to the Washington Examiner. They report that senior Trump advisor Paul Manafort told some Senate Republican chiefs of staff last week that until RNC funds are unlocked following the convention, they won’t be able to run TV ads responding to attacks from Democrats and their allies, possibly until the end of July. Building on previous reporting from the Examiner, New York Times, and others, this continues to indicate a dependence — possibly an over-dependence — on the Republican Party to manage the campaign’s communications, big data, opposition research, and a reportedly unprepared ground game, as well as simply to pay the bills.
Trump’s shift to RNC money is of course a huge departure from his stance during the GOP primaries, when he repeatedly boasted about how he was self-funding his campaign, in large part to avoid being beholden to the very Republican establishment on which his campaign will apparently now rely. (Since securing the nomination, Trump has indicated that he will no longer be funding his own post-primaries campaign.)
Now, it’s possible that outside spending groups could help form a bridge to August, but there seems to be some confusion thus far among conservative donors as to where their money should be directed. Also worth noting, as the Examiner does, is that Trump’s ability to earn media has been extremely valuable to his campaign up to now, and so it’s possible he’ll be able effectively utilize that continued exposure, albeit perhaps with additional inflammatory rhetoric, in place of ads until more money becomes available.
The report points out another possible rationale for Trump’s sudden reliance on the GOP, however, passing along a source’s suggestion that the mogul is already trying to insulate his reputation from the failure of his campaign, should he lose in November. Following that logic, Trump could try to blame the Republican Party for the loss, rather than take responsibility for what may end up being one of the most poorly run presidential campaigns in history.
And there’s another scenario that could precede that, which Trump allies are already worrying about, in which the RNC determines that Trump will be the loser in the general and redirects its spending to try and salvage some down-ticket races. Hot Air blogger Allahpundit imagines how that might unfold:
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 [Party chairman Reince Priebus] 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.
This post has been updated to incorporate additional commentary.