There’s a famous Shakespearean quote that may very well haunt the GOP and Donald Trump for years. As the Bard has Hamlet say of his Uncle Claudius, the king who had conspired against Hamlet with Hamlet’s former friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, only to have Hamlet discover the plot and turn the tables, “For ’tis the sport to have the enginer hoist with his own petar’.”
This time, though, it is Trump who may be hoist with his own petard.
Rick Wilson notes that after boasting during the entire primary season that he would self-fund his campaign, thus reassuring donors that they needn’t worry about funding him, Trump didn’t convince the donor class to give him money, especially because he constantly reiterated that he was fabulously wealthy. As Wilson writes, “He’s made it easy for them to smile politely and say, ‘Oh, Don’s got this. I’m focused on down-ballot races this cycle.’”
To make matters even more dicey for Trump, last week, according to what one source told The Washington Examiner, Paul Manafort, Trump’s senior advisor addressed Senate Republican chiefs of staff to tell them the Trump campaign was broke. The source said, “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.” A GOP donor told CNN, “I don’t think the RNC is 100 percent committed. If Donald Trump’s seven points down in October, they’re going to put that money toward Senate races and House races.”
Wilson presents evidence that Trump executed a slick con on the GOP; his boasts of his wealth kept other candidates fearful of launching an assault on him with the supposed prospect of Trump using his wealth to pay for attack ads; RNC chairman Reince Preibus, also fearful Trump would run as a third-party candidate using his own funds, begged him for a pledge that he wouldn’t.
Wilson presents ample evidence of Trump’s machinations:
A major Wall Street donor laughing at Trump’s claim of his $10 million worth, chortling that Trump was likely worth less than $2.5 million and was not telling the truth about having more than $200 million in liquidity. The donor chuckled, “He’s not a billionaire. I’m a billionaire. He’s a clown living on credit.” As Wilson states, “Even his fanfic financial statements don’t show enough liquid cash to run a full national campaign.
Trump won’t release his tax returns, claiming he can’t because he is under audit. Wilson notes that Richard Nixon was under audit when he released his taxes from 1968 to 1973. His famous “I am not a crook” line referred to his tax status, not Watergate.
The last FEC report stated Trump had $2.4 million in his account, but he was $44 million in debt to . . . Donald J. Trump.
“He’s not a billionaire. I’m a billionaire. He’s a clown living on credit.”
Mega-donor speaking of Donald Trump
Meanwhile, the RNC had roughly $17 million on hand and $4 million in debt, leaving them $970 million dollars short of what was raised for the Romney/RNC/SuperPAC total for 2012. And the RNC, despite its plethora of daily Trump email appeals, is not revealing whether it has had any success. Wilson opines:
It’s not coming from the RNC, either. They simply don’t have the money to do it, and never will. Part of the reason Preibus rolled over so quickly was the thought Trump would stroke a massive check to the RNC, when Trump never intended to do so. I can imagine the Titanic sinking sensation in the pit of Reince’s stomach when stories hit this weekend that Trump’s campaign was broke.
When the fights are on social and earned media, Trump is a master. When the fights are happening on television and mobile device screens, on targeted social media advertising and on voter contact, money talks and bullshit walks. Trump thinks he’s beyond advertising: he’s not. Donald Trump’s big scam for his voters is that his money empowers him to ignore the rules of political physics forever. They honestly believe he can offset a fully-funded campaign waged against him in domains that aren’t part of the visible spectacle of this election. They think rallies and red hats are more important than GOTV and voter communications.
They’re in for a rude awakening.
Trump’s con is so slick that he has an exit strategy if he loses in November; the source told the Examiner, “He’s going to blame it on the RNC if he doesn’t win in November.” He added that in order for Trump to win without the funding, “He’s going to have to keep saying bombastic stuff that’s way far out there that’s going to continue to alienate people some in his own party. And he’s going to have a hard time unifying his own party. Because that’s how he’s going to get coverage.”