Trump Campaign Reportedly Telling GOP Insiders It’s Low On Cash

Donald Trump is apparently having money troubles.

Donald Trump Shrug

Donald Trump’s campaign is telling Senators and other Republicans in the know that it is ‘low on cash’ and therefore won’t be running ads any time soon:

Donald Trump’s campaign has alerted Senate Republicans that he won’t have much money to spend fending off attacks from Hillary Clinton over the next couple months.

The notice came when Paul Manafort, Trump’s senior advisor, met with a group of Senate Republican chiefs of staff for lunch last week, sources familiar with the meeting told the Washington Examiner. The admission suggests that Trump will be far more dependent on the GOP brass for money than he has led voters to believe, but it’s consistent with his reliance on the Republican National Committee to provide a ground game in battleground states.

“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,” one GOP source familiar with Manafort’s comments told the Examiner.

That’s a far cry from Trump’s public insistence that he signed a fundraising agreement with the RNC in order to help the party, not himself. “The RNC really wanted to do it, and I want to show good spirit,” he said last week. “‘Cause I was very happy to continue to go along the way I was.”

Still, Trump allies have suggested that the RNC is going to take advantage of the real estate mogul. “I don’t think the RNC is 100 percent committed,” a GOP donor told CNN. “If Donald Trump’s seven points down in October, they’re going to put that money toward Senate races and House races.”

Manafort seemed confident at the lunch with GOP staff, however. “He said that he thought Hillary Clinton was the ideal opponent — that he was the ultimate outsider and she was the ultimate insider,” a Senate GOP chief-of-staff in attendance said.

These reports seem to confirm several things about the Trump campaign that, until now, had only been the subject of rumor and speculation. For one thing, unlike the primary campaign which Trump claims, rather deceptively, to have self-funded, it’s been clear from the time that Trump became the presumptive nominee that he would seek to raise money from the same donors that he spent most of the primary season attacking.  It also tends to support the idea, long suspected by many of Trump’s critics as well as seasoned campaign observers, that Trump does not have access to sufficient liquid assets to self-fund a General Election campaign, something he’s probably known all along. Even the largely disputed financial report that Trump filed at the start of the campaign tends to support this idea since it shows that the vast majority of his estimated  $10 billion in wealth consists of real estate holdings and the alleged $3 billion value of his “personal brand,” which he has taken advantage of in the past by selling it for use in everything from real estate projects that he has no interest in or control over to bedding, clothes, steaks, and Trump branded bottled water that only seems to be available for sale at properties bearing Donald Trump’s name. None of these assets are easily convertible to cash and many of them, such as the real estate holdings, are likely also subject to bank liens and other interests that mean that Trump would likely walk away with less than the estimated value of any building he might try to sell. In any case, Trump has not taken any steps to even try to liquidate assets to fund a General Election campaign, something which suggests that his promise to “self-fund” his campaign was pure bluster from the beginning.

Reports like this also tend to support reports like the one last week that many Republican megadonors are still reluctant to get behind the Trump campaign, with many of the biggest names from past election cycles either still sitting on the sidelines or making the choice to use their money and contacts to aid Republicans in down ballot elections who were facing difficult elections well before it was confirmed that Donald Trump would be at the top of the ticket. That may change as time goes on, but if it continues then Trump is going to find it problematic to run a top level Presidential campaign, especially given the fact that he’ll be up against a Democratic opponent who stands to be able to raise and spend as much as a total of $1 billion between now and Election Day.

Finally, some Republican insiders are suggesting that these claims of poverty are part of Trump laying the groundwork for how he might handle a loss in November:

The preemptive fretting about how the RNC plans to spend its money this fall makes some Republicans think that Trump, who has repeatedly insulted Mitt Romney for failing to defeat President Obama in the 2012 presidential election, is preparing to protect his reputation if Hillary Clinton wins.

“He’s going to blame it on the RNC if he doesn’t win in November,” the first source said. “They’re laying that groundwork now.”

I’ve wondered what Donald Trump might do if, as most observers believe, he ends up losing in November. One option, of course, is that he could just walk away, return to his businesses and his like of ostentatious absurdity, and leave the world of politics behind. After all, Trump has failed before — at running an airline, at the casino business in Atlantic City, at running an airline — and managed to walk away relatively unscathed. If he wanted to stay involved in politics, though, and continue to cause mischief for his enemies in the GOP, there would be no better way of doing it than going to war against the RNC after what would be a disappointing loss across the board. It would be a way for him to maintain influence over a movement inside the GOP that is unlikely to go away regardless of what happens in November, and it would be an excuse for him to continue opining on politics from the comfort of his Twitter feed, all at very little cost to him.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mark Ivey says:

    Doing the GOP like he did Atlantic City.


  2. James Pearce says:

    Meanwhile, Clinton’s team was flirting with pejoratively calling him by the nickname “Poor Donald,” to make fun of his (possibly) over-stated fortune. It’s the kind of predictably dumb incompetence that just might make it easier to answer “What will Donald Trump do after the election?”

    Why, he’ll be president, that’s what he’ll do.

  3. J Russ says:

    Ah,the Republican cynical 40 year “Southern Strategy” to recruit the nations intolerant and ignorant has finally come to fruition.
    Republicans have succeeded and turned the South from blue to red and
    picked up the like minded in the North along the way. But Houston, we
    have a problem. The recruited under educated mindless inmates have
    become the rank and file majority and hijacked the Grand “Old” Party
    from the old, stingy rich, angry, country club white guys and taken
    over the asylum and anointed the poster boy of insecure intolerant white
    males, manically insecure, Donald Trump, for President. Lesson, be
    careful what you wish for my GOP friends, you got the South, the like
    minded North, and now the Donald, but they are driving you to
    extinction. Republican’s sowed the whirlwind and are now harvesting
    their richly deserved bitter harvest, adios

  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @J Russ:

    For decades, the South – for better or worse (mostly worse) – was the Democratic Party’s cross to bear.

    It’s the Republican Party’s problem now. You break it – you bought it. Enjoy your purchase 🙂

  5. M. Bouffant says:

    After Trump loses there will be a whine, bitch & moan fest the likes of which have seldom been observed outside of a kindergarten, in which everyone but Trump will be blamed, w/ attendant threats of lawsuits.

    The Twitter meltdown should be quite amusing.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Maybe he can apply for public funding through the Federal Election Commission?

  7. Dazedandconfused says:

    Why would he buy ads? He already has better than fitty percent of the “news” TV time locked up for nothing. Saw Megan Kelly fluffing him this week, and he called her a bimbo on national TV.

    (insert Rolling Stone’s “Under My Thumb” here)

    Our Entertainer In Chief…

  8. Jen says:


    “[…] so they plan to just use earned media to compete on the airwaves,”

    Indeed–what I get from the above excerpt is that we can expect to see/hear ever-more outlandish nonsense from Trump and his team from now until after the nomination is secured, so that he can continue to have the camera lenses of the media trained on him.

  9. Dazedandconfused says:


    It may be the old hands who he has brought in to run his campaign are engaging in some gamesmanship with the old hands in the RNC money machine. Like anticipating your teenager is about to ask you for cash so you preempt it by asking her for cash first. Rove 101….

    Presidential candidates are “traditionally” bound to raise big bucks for the Party, their public profile never needs big buys, not really, and experience has shown they don’t make a heck of a lot of difference for them anyway. Our media is nearly all about the Presidential horse race now.