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“No Special-Interest Contributions?”: Will Trump Have To Go On A Fund-Raising Binge If He Wins The GOP Nomination?

One of the big story lines of the presidential cycle is that candidates other than front-runner Donald J. Trump have spent a lot more money on themselves and against him than he’s had to expend, enabling him to pose as the guy too rich (and too popular with small donors) to be vulnerable to “bribery.” This was exemplified by the failed effort by Marco Rubio and an assortment of conservative groups to take down Trump in Florida. Anti-Trump “independent” ads alone in the Sunshine State cost an estimated $35.5 million. Total spending by Trump and his supporters for the entire campaign nationwide is at $25.8 million.

Trump’s difference-maker financially, of course, has been his massive advantage in “earned media” (or what used to be called “free media,” because it’s provided by media coverage free of charge). MediaQuant, a firm that measures and values unpaid media coverage, estimates that Trump has harvested nearly $1.9 billion in earned media this cycle. That’s about twice as much as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush combined have received, and within shouting distance of being twice as much as the two Democratic candidates combined as well.

But general-election campaigns are a lot more expensive than primaries. So it’s not surprising that Trump has hedged on repeating his “no special-interest contributions” pledge beyond the Republican Convention in July, and CNN is reporting that he’s already planning a big fund-raising blitz for the general election.

At The American Prospect, Eliza Newlin Carney puts all this together and suggests that total campaign costs are about to become too high for Trump to perpetually surf earned media to victory:

So far, Trump has enjoyed an extraordinary political ride, fending off millions worth of hostile attacks, prevailing against opponents who out-organized and outspent him, and sparing himself the punishing grind of high-dollar fundraisers. He’s also gotten considerable political mileage out of his claim to be above the big money fray. It remains to be seen whether Trump can continue playing by his own rules, or whether he will be forced to get his hands dirty in the messy business of campaign financing—and answer for it to voters.

But there are two factors that undercut this possibility. For one thing, Trump could liquidate some of his assets (estimated independently as having a value of about $4.5 billion) and self-finance to a considerable extent. And for another, this long nominating contest season in both parties is shortening the general-election campaign and the time and cost of any “air war.” Additionally, earned media is much easier to come by in presidential general elections than any other mode of politics, sometimes dwarfing paid media even when there’s not a wildly entertaining and galvanizing figure like Donald Trump in the fray. So it might make sense for Trump to wait and see if he even needs to spend a lot of money. At the current trajectory Americans won’t grow totally bored with the wiggy dude until some time well into 2017.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 17, 2016

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Campaign Financing, Donald Trump, Special Interest Groups | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Saint Joan Of The Tundra”: Mitt’s Troubles Never End

It’s looking like Mitt Romney might name his VP pick pretty soon, which is probably a good idea given that the release of the pick will result in a few days of positive coverage when the news media is consumed with something other than what Bain Capital did when, or what juicy nuggets might be contained within Romney’s hidden tax returns. But there’s a downside: once we do get to the Republican convention, the VP nominee will be old news, so the media can pay much more attention to intra-party squabbling. And nobody likes a good squabble more than Sarah Palin. Remember her?

The Romney camp will not comment on Palin, or on plans for the convention, but one adviser associated with the campaign suggested that Palin would be prohibited from speaking at the Republican convention by her contract with Fox News. “It’s true I’m prohibited from doing some things,” Palin says, “but this is the first I’ve heard anyone suggest that as an excuse, er, reason to stay away from engaging in the presidential race. I’m quite confident Fox’s top brass would never strip anyone of their First Amendment rights in this regard.” (Fox says her contract would not prohibit speaking at the convention if she sought permission.)

Palin is keeping the dates open in late August, just in case. In any event, she says, she plans to be politically active between now and November, starting with a Michigan Tea Party appearance, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. “No matter the Romney campaign strategy,” she says, “I intend to do all I can to join others in motivating the grassroots made up of independents and constitutional conservatives who can replace Barack Obama at the ballot box.”

So here’s the dilemma. If Romney doesn’t let Palin speak at the convention, we get all kinds of stories about pissed off Tea Partiers denouncing Romney for forsaking their Saint Joan of the Tundra, Fox sends her there anyway so she’s just hanging around, and she steals a not insignificant portion of Romney’s thunder. But if he does let her speak, the American public gets reminded that the Republican party is dominated by a bunch of paranoid extremist know-nothings, and Romney looks weak for giving in to them.

Right now, Romney and his advisors are trying to figure out if they can send her on an urgent four-month diplomatic mission to the Arctic Circle. The trouble with Sarah Palin is that nobody tells her what to do. I can’t wait for her to run for president in four years.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 17, 2012

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A “Star Wars Bar Scene”: Mitt Romney’s Troubles Will Follow Him to the Convention

The train has left the station. The fat lady is about to sing. It is all over but the cheering. Any more trite phrases, as former Gov. Mitt Romney is about to wrap this nomination up?

On Tuesday, he should win Maryland, D.C., and Wisconsin. And some say former Sen. Rick Santorum is behind in the April 24 Pennsylvania primary.

But think about this: How does Romney manage the convention in Tampa with the likes of Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul, not to mention Rep. Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain wanting their moment in the sun?

Can you see this crowd clearing their speeches with the Romney high command?

Or imagine this, former Gov. Sarah Palin, fresh off the Today show and more time as Fox News diva, begins to insist on a prime time slot. She got shoved off the stage on election night 2008, you don’t think she’ll let it happen again do you?

This could be one rough convention, one strange cast of characters. Bar scene from Star Wars, anyone?

Clearly, Mitt Romney needs to unite the party, play to the hard conservatives, make sure his base is smiling and happy. But, at what cost? By showcasing this crowd? Reminding voters of all those lovely debates? Bringing up Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin to the stage to infuriate the undecided voters and the independents? Letting Santorum further alienate women and give a culture war speech?

My guess is that Romney would rather pretend that the last year never happened or at least that he put this away by New Hampshire. Sorry, you may have to play it again, Mitt!

Sure, he will have to figure out the vice presidential pick first but this convention could be one “really big show!”


By: Peter Fenn, U. s. News and World report, April 4, 2012

April 4, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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