This week, we learned that the Republican presidential nominee has $1.3 million in his campaign vault — approximately $41 million less than his Democratic opponent. There is no modern precedent for a discrepancy of that size. And since parties rely on their standard-bearers to generate funds for their down-ballot war chests, Donald Trump’s failure to court cash is hurting the entire GOP. The Republican National Committee had $60 million in cash-on-hand at this point in 2012 — it has $20 million today.
Your typical politician wouldn’t brag about such a historic failure. Donald J. Trump is not your typical politician.
“Isn’t that impressive?” he asked Norah O’Donnell on CBS This Morning, after being confronted with his fundraising deficit. “Isn’t it impressive — when we’re even — and she’s spending $23 million and I’m spending [less]?”
“That’s called good business practices,” the real-estate heir added.
O’Donnell politely refrained from noting that Trump and Clinton are not “even.” In fact, the candidates are so uneven, when the mogul tries to cherry-pick a favorable poll to blast to his Twitter followers, he has to settle for ones that show him only a little bit behind.
Perhaps sensing the weakness of “My inability to raise money proves that I have excellent business skills,” Trump gave a second reason why his campaign’s lack of funding was actually tremendous.
“I don’t want to devote the rest of my life to raising money from people.” Trump said. “When she raises this money, every time she raises this money, she’s making deals. They’re saying, ‘Could I be the ambassador to this, can I do that, make sure my business is being taken care of.’”
“All of the money that she’s raising, that’s blood money,” the GOP nominee declared.
To substantiate the claim that Hillary Clinton accepts money from corrupt evildoers with blood on their hands, Trump noted, “Look, I was one of the biggest donors.”
Still, of his two rationalizations for his campaign’s slim cash advantage over the Green Party’s nominee, the latter is the strongest.
MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin, who has spent the past year of his life embedded with the Trumpen proletariat, writes that most of the mogul’s rallygoers explain their support for the mogul by deploying some variation of the phrase “He can’t be bought.”
Money in politics is a concern for Americans of all ideological hues. Granted, Trump supporters’ sense of how money influences our politics may vary from that of Bernie Sanders’s backers (in a recent speech, Trump suggested Syrian refugees are a “politically correct special interest” group). But still, the claim that Trump’s wealth insulates him from corrupting special interests may be the one part of his primary pitch that has real crossover appeal. Which is why Trump refuses to admit that when he raises money for the RNC, he’s also raising money for himself.
In truth, Trump wants all of the blood money he can get his hands on, if not to win the election, then at least to funnel into his own businesses. The GOP nominee has embraced multiple billionaires he excoriated his primary rivals for accepting cash from, including Jets owner Woody Johnson and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
But if Trump keeps running a dumpster fire of a campaign, he may ultimately live up to his promise of financial independence: You can’t be bought when no one wants what you’re selling.