WASHINGTON, June 23, 2016 — A recent filing to the Federal Election Commission showed that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had only $1.3 million of cash while opponent Hillary Clinton had more than $42 million.
The filing showed that the Trump campaign spent about $6.2 million on goods and services provided by Trump and his corporations.
Trump isn’t worried, and other Republicans shouldn’t worry either.
In a speech this week, Trump took an aggressive yet subdued approach as he pivoted from Trump the primary brawler to Trump the presidential candidate. He responded briefly to comments from the opposition, who seized on the filing to claim that Trump’s candidacy is self-serving and meant to enrich Trump.
The pundits claim that Trump does not have the ability to raise nearly enough money to fund his campaign; because he has not released his tax returns, they conclude he is not as wealthy as he claims. Trump is in trouble.
Trump says he is not worried. Not only can he raise the funds, answer his critics and show his presidential mettle; he can win the general election and carry Congress with him.
Of the allegations that his campaign has paid millions to his empire, he points out that when his campaign receives a service, it must pay for it—regardless of who provides it. That is the law. His campaign has used Trump facilities and catering, and because those are provided by separate legal entities, the campaign must pay for them.
In the end, he gives or loans his campaign much of what he receives for the services anyway. He follows the laws exactly as they were written.
Nor is he worried that his campaign has less money than Clinton’s, receives less in donations and has a much smaller staff.
Pundits claim that Republicans are panicking, not only because of Trump’s poor campaign finance position and his lack of staff but because he has dropped in the polls. They say Republicans believe Trump will lose the general and will drag the party down with him. Establishment Republicans worry that Trump’s positions and brash style will hurt them.
Trump thinks they shouldn’t worry.
He points out that he knows how to win, he knows how to raise money and he can pivot to tactfully present his position. He also showed he can campaign effectively against any opponent, especially “crooked” Hillary Clinton, who he says is “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States.”
In his first major speech since reorganizing his campaign staff, Trump appeared presidential in both tone and substance. He toned down the rhetoric that he used to get attention in a crowded primary field. He read from a prepared speech which helped ensure that he would not say something that was not carefully considered.
Trump was on the offensive for the entire speech, noting that Clinton’s corrupt behavior as secretary of state often seemed to enrich her family foundation and her personally. He stressed the two issues that are of most concern to American voters at this time—the economy and national security—while clearly defining the differences between Clinton and himself on those issues.
Clinton supports and wants to expand the failed economic policies of the Obama Administration by focusing on perceived social injustices rather than on economic growth. Almost every economist would say that growth should be the top priority.
On the issue of national security and foreign policy, Trump said, “No secretary of state has been more wrong, more often, and in more places than Hillary Clinton.” As secretary of state, Clinton “spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched.”
He addressed a frequent boast of the Clinton camp, that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to ever run for president, with experience as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state. But Trump emphasized that that experience does not necessarily translate into good judgment.
When it comes to raising money, pivoting to appeal to a target audience and winning a competition, let’s not underestimate the ability of Donald Trump.