Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Trump's Real Social Connection Throws Curveballs into the Presidential Race

A merger deal involving former President Trump's Truth Social platform is the latest financial twist in the White House race as he hopes to close the fundraising gap with President Biden.

While polls show a close race nationally with Trump leading in key states, Biden's campaign activity is significantly outpacing Trump's two months into 2024. Trump faces significant financial hurdles as his criminal cases cost him millions of dollars used to help his campaign. Meanwhile, he faces a Monday deadline to post nearly half a billion dollars for a bond in a civil trial involving his business.

Trump, for his part, has pushed back on reports of his financial struggles. On Friday, he said he had more than $500 million in cash, contradicting his lawyers who said it was not enough to cover the $454 million bond he was required to post. However, he indicated that he did not intend to use it.

“That doesn't mean I'm going to pay a rogue and incompetent judge — a puppet of a corrupt attorney general who's failed on violent crime and immigration and whose sole purpose in life is trying to get Trump,” Trump said. told Fox News Digital In an interview.

The multibillion-dollar merger deal announced Friday raised questions about whether it could generate cash for Trump to catch Biden in the money race and help with his legal costs. While it is not clear how the development will play out, there are regulations that will limit how much it will improve the former president's financial situation in the future.

Digital World Acquisition Corp. Provisions in the merger between and Truth Social prevent major shareholders from selling their stakes for at least six months, so Trump — who will be the majority shareholder — may not get the $3.5 billion the deal could make. At the time the bond becomes payable. However, Trump could try to get a waiver to allow him to sell his shares if the company's board, which includes mostly his associates, agrees.

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The merger comes as Trump faces dire financial straits as the general election campaign continues. Facing four criminal charges in separate jurisdictions, the former president has used much of his intake over the past year to deal with his legal battles.

Trump's fundraising teams spent nearly $30 million on legal expenses in the second half of 2023, bringing the total he spent on legal fees last year to $50 million. His flagship PAC, Save America, spent nearly $3 million in legal fees in January and $5.6 million last month.

Civil judgments against him are still financially costly. Writer E. She was required to post a bond of about $91 million this month as she appealed a contempt conviction against Jean Carroll, who claimed she lied about sexually abusing her.

But the biggest financial hurdle is the $454 million he owes in his civil fraud case. Trump's lawyers said in a court filing Monday that obtaining a full bond would be “practically impossible.”

At the same time, Trump is outpacing Biden in how much he raises. In the last quarter of 2023, Biden raised $33 million, compared to Trump's $19 million.

That disparity continued until the start of this year. Biden's campaign machine raised $42 million in January, while Trump's core groups brought in only $13.8 million. Trump stepped up his fundraising total in February by more than $20 million, but Biden's campaign took in $53 million.

Some Republican strategists attributed Trump's stark contrast to the intense and hotly contested Republican primary, while Biden faced little opposition to secure the nomination.

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“Republicans don't have to nominate Trump. Democrats should nominate Biden. If Trump was the current president under these circumstances, he would outrun Biden, no questions asked,” said Republican strategist Zachary Moyle.

“The simple answer is … the Republicans had a choice, the Democrats didn't. Nikki Haley hasn't been out long enough, and that's the difference in fundraising,” he continued.

Haley, who emerged as the last remaining Trump alternative in the New Hampshire primary in January, maintained significant financial support as Trump continued to win primaries and caucuses. He's got a number of traditional Republican mega-donors, including billionaire Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone and Charles Koch's political network.

It was the first time Koch's Americans for Prosperity Action had endorsed a Republican presidential candidate in a primary.

Significant funding also went to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

“If you take that money and throw it back into the Trump world, Trump will raise a ton,” Moyle said. “The big question for everybody who's looking for a different race on the conservative side of the Republican Party is, are they going to kick in at some point or are they going to drop out?”

Democrats have said Trump's fiscal woes will give Biden an advantage as the race continues, arguing that it shows stronger enthusiasm for Biden than polls suggest.

Strategist Clay Middleton, a member of the Democratic National Committee, said an observer would not expect the amount of money raised based on the polls.

“It's better to be us than them,” he said, referring to the GOP. “They'll take our poll numbers and our fundraising numbers any day of the week. Their fundraising numbers and turnouts.”

He said the financial advantage would allow Biden's campaign to organize on the ground to quickly establish voter communications and “deep corporate relationships” beyond digital and TV ads.

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“We're peaking at the right time and it's only going to get better from here,” Middleton said.

Crimson MacDonald, a Democratic strategist, said she believes the polls are a good indicator of dissatisfaction among voters. Among Biden's supporters, they understand the importance of money in politics, but are a quieter group of supporters than former President Obama's supporters, who were visibly excited, he said.

“He's not someone that people expose to the world that I like [Biden]But … the people who donate, who care enough to know that he should be president, or they should invest in some way, they donate,” MacDonald said.

But Republicans say the disparity won't affect Trump as much as other political candidates, whom Hillary Clinton won in 2016 despite outscoring him.

GOP strategist Justin Saife said Trump doesn't need to raise more money than his opponent, just enough to win. He also said he's still not worried about Biden's fundraising advantage.

He also pointed to unsuccessful Democratic Senate candidates in 2020 over Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lindsey Graham (R-Maine).

“Those dollars don't translate,” Sayfie said.

He said the joint fundraising committee that Trump and the Republican National Committee have set up should help improve the numbers by providing the party infrastructure for the campaign, similar to what Biden was able to do with the Democratic National Committee.

“I think you'll see a consolidation among Republicans, and I think his fundraising numbers will increase now that he's the true candidate of the party,” Saifee said.

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