Looks Like We’ve Got A Pivot

Ken AshfordElection 2016Leave a Comment

Being strapped of cash is only part of Trump’s problem. Trump’s campaign has fewer than 100 staffers. He boasts how “efficient” his operation is, with 73 employees. Clinton is estimated to already have around 800 paid staffers. Those are people that can be used to register voters and then get them to the polls in key states. You could believe Trump’s boast that his campaign is more “efficient” and that his constant presence on TV compensates for a smaller staff. Or you could look to history: By August of 2012, Obama had 901 people on his payroll, Romney had 403.

But there are signs that the Trump campaign is actually going to try to win this thing.  Lewandowski got fired as campaign manager, and Trump has actually hired, you know, staff leaders, which bodes will for getting actual staffers out there.

Hillary Clinton gave an economics speech yesterday, and reporters and pundits were flooded with emails responding to her points.  Yes, he apparently has a rapid response team now.  All earmarks of a legit presidential candidate.

And he’s going to be raising money.  That might be a little bit harder, for a couple of reasons.

First, he said that when Clinton raises money, it is “blood money”, meaning, he explained, that she is obligated to do things in return for that money.  It will be weird to say that and then start raising money on his own.  How is that not “blood money”?

Secondly, Clinton has raised a lot of money from small donors.  People like you and me.  In tens and twenties.  Trump can’t do that easily.  For one thing, he boasts about how rich he is.  Why would his (poorly educated and probably not wealthy redneck) mass of followers who believe him give him money?  His whole shtick is that he doesn’t need it.

Thirdly, many large campaign donors have already said they will not donate to Trump, as they do not think he is a suitable candidate.  In other words, for Trump to raise the kind of money he needs, he has to change.  This is something he has shown an unwillingness (or, I suspect, inability) to do.  He has been notably undisciplined the past few weeks — from his racially tinged criticism of a federal judge to his off-key, self-congratulatory response to the Orlando terrorist attack — and this has discouraged donors and leery Republicans who’d still been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Trump himself vowed Tuesday to match any soft money contributions made over the following 48 hours up to $2 million, another effort to portray the situation as far from bleak but one that could backfire should donors believe that the campaign’s finances are in good shape.  $2 million isn’t very much if you’re a billionaire (which is one-thousand million), leading many to see this as further evidence that Trump is not a billionaire.

“Part of the problem is he keeps saying, ‘I’m gonna put that kind of money in,’ which makes it very difficult for donors and — and someone like myself to try and raise money for him in a super PAC,” Ed Rollins, who formed a pro-Trump super PAC that has failed to gain traction, said Tuesday during an appearance on Fox Business Network. “People say ‘Well, he says he can buy it himself. Let him put the money in.’”

Trump is set to give a speech today that will seek to outline his argument against Clinton, who made her first, focused speech criticizing him nearly a month ago. Seven weeks after securing the GOP nomination, Trump has struggled to fully pivot into general election mode. Many observers both inside and outside the campaign will be watching for signs that Trump has reined in his shoot-from-the-hip excesses.  I expect it to be a telepromptered speech, and to be rather flat.  Even one off color aside will make it a failure.

UPDATE:  Trump’s speech apparently was not telepromptered, but was pretty much the same-old same-old: