Defiant Trump ready to fund race himself

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump lashed out at his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's policies and personal record on Wednesday.
Supporters of Mr Trump cheering as he arrived at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, last weekend. Mr Trump's campaign finished May with little more than US$1 million in the bank. However, he says he is just getting started as a competitor against
Supporters of Mr Trump cheering as he arrived at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, last weekend. Mr Trump's campaign finished May with little more than US$1 million in the bank. However, he says he is just getting started as a competitor against Mrs Clinton, and there has been a "tremendous outpouring of support" from donors since the start of June.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Even as Mr Donald Trump continues to dominate the presidential campaign on cable news and social media, drawing large crowds with incendiary speeches about immigration and national security, his candidacy has faltered in the important area of organisational discipline.

Having swept through the Republican primaries and caucuses with a skeleton campaign staff and a budget funded largely from his own bank account, Mr Trump must now compete against Mrs Hillary Clinton, his presumptive Democratic opponent, with only a fraction of the financial and political infrastructure she has amassed.

In crucial states, his campaign offices have withered. He has not yet put out a single television ad in the general election.

The situation has grown so dire that Mr Trump suggested this week that he might tap into his personal fortune to keep the campaign afloat. He disclosed that his campaign finished May with little more than US$1 million (S$1.3 million) in the bank. Mrs Clinton reported had about US$42 million.

In a defiant statement, Mr Trump said he was just getting started as a competitor against Mrs Clinton, and that there had been a "tremendous outpouring of support" from donors since the beginning of June.

On Tuesday, he mused publicly about funding the race himself. "If need be, there could be unlimited cash on hand as I would put up my own money, as I have already done through the primaries, spending over US$50 million," he said.

Mr Trump is to be feted at two fund-raisers in New York this week, organised by Mr Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets, with one event featuring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. But the ticket price for that event is only US$500, a paltry sum for a presidential campaign, and only 260 people have signed up, according to a person involved in the fund-raising.

Mr Charles Spies, a Republican election lawyer who advised former candidate Jeb Bush's Super political action committee, suggested an appropriate figure that Mr Trump needed to raise would be between US$100 million and US$200 million.

Mr Spies said Mr Trump should also forgive the loans he had made to his campaign to reassure contributors that he would not use their money to repay himself.

According to documents submitted to the Federal Election Commission, Mr Trump paid at least US$1.1 million to his businesses and family members last month for expenses associated with events and travel. That figure represents nearly one-fifth of the US$6 million that his campaign spent in the month.

"For donors to invest in his campaign, he's got to show that he's investing in it also," Mr Spies said.

"He's got to have US$500 million to run a bare-bones campaign, and that would mean getting outspent by Hillary Clinton and her allies between 2-1 and 3-1."

Mr Dwight Schar, a former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Mr Trump never courted party donors during the primary season and accused them of seeking to buy influence in government, boasting that as a wealthy man he would be immune to their entreaties.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump has hired several new staff members to expand his campaign, including Mr Jim Murphy as national political director, to focus on key battleground states, his campaign announced.

NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'Defiant Trump ready to fund race himself'. Print Edition | Subscribe